Airbus prévoit de mettre en service un avion à hydrogène d’ici à 2035
Airbus aligns itself with the objectives of the French government. In an interview published in Le Parisien on Sunday, September 20, its executive chairman, Guillaume Faury, stated that the development of a hydrogen-powered, decarbonized aircraft is a “strategic priority”, and unveiled three concepts to achieve an aircraft in service by 2035. “Developing a low-carbon aircraft does not require any major technological breakthrough,” said the European aircraft manufacturer’s CEO, recalling that Airbus already uses hydrogen propulsion for its satellites and the Ariane rocket.
The choice and maturation of technologies will take five years, then two for suppliers and industrial sites, according to him. “So the program is expected to be up and running around 2028. Our ambition is to be the first manufacturer to put such an aircraft into service in 2035,” he explains. This timetable corresponds to the objective of a “carbon-neutral aircraft”, set at the beginning of June by the French government, which plans to devote 1.5 billion euros to it between now and 2022 as part of its plan to support the aeronautics sector, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.
Three very different concepts
Airbus prepared three concepts,” explains Guillaume Faury. The first “is a conventionally configured aircraft with a seating capacity of up to 200 seats and a range of more than 3,500 kilometers. The cylindrical liquid hydrogen tank would be housed inside the fuselage in the rear part of the aircraft. “The second will be a propeller plane, which can carry about 100 passengers, for shorter journeys” while “the third is more disruptive”, according to him: it is a “flying wing with about 200 seats that allows us to study a completely different configuration for hydrogen storage and propulsion”.
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Beyond technical developments, the regulatory framework must necessarily evolve by then to authorize the use of hydrogen in commercial aircraft,” reminds Guillaume Faury. “It will also be necessary for the infrastructures in airports to be ready and for green hydrogen to be available in large quantities,” he argues. The “green” hydrogen must be produced by electricity from renewable sources, whereas it is much more expensive today than fossil hydrogen, whose production is very polluting.