Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has revealed three concepts for the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft which could enter service by 2035. Each concept represents a different approach to achieving zero-emission flight and rely on hydrogen as their primary power source.
Airbus views hydrogen offers the promise of “clean aviation fuel” and could be a solution for aerospace industries to meet climate-neutral targets.
“The concepts we unveil today offer the world a glimpse of our ambition to drive a bold vision for the future of zero-emission flight,” said Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO. “I strongly believe that the use of hydrogen – both in synthetic fuels and as a primary power source for commercial aircraft – has the potential to significantly reduce aviation’s climate impact.”
The three concepts – all codenamed “ZEROe” include:
A turbofan design (120-200 passengers) with a range of 2,000-plus nautical miles, capable of operating transcontinentally and powered by a modified gas-turbine engine running on hydrogen, rather than jet fuel, through combustion. The liquid hydrogen will be stored and distributed via tanks located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.
A turboprop design (up to 100 passengers) using a turboprop engine instead of a turbofan and also powered by hydrogen combustion in modified gas-turbine engines, which would be capable of travelling more than 1,000 nautical miles, making it a perfect option for short-haul trips.
A “blended-wing body” design (up to 200 passengers) concept in which the wings merge with the main body of the aircraft with a range similar to that of the turbofan concept. The exceptionally wide fuselage opens up multiple options for hydrogen storage and distribution, and for cabin layout.
“These concepts will help us explore and mature the design and layout of the world’s first climate-neutral, zero-emission commercial aircraft, which we aim to put into service by 2035,” said Guillaume Faury.
“The transition to hydrogen, as the primary power source for these concept planes, will require decisive action from the entire aviation ecosystem. Together with the support from government and industrial partners, we can rise up to this challenge to scale-up renewable energy and hydrogen for the sustainable future of the aviation industry.”
All images supplied © Airbus 2020