Airbus wants to build zero-emission planes by 2035. Here’s how

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Boeing (BA) The European rival on Monday revealed three concepts that will explore different options for using hydrogen as the main source of energy.

“This is a historic moment for the commercial aviation industry as a whole and we intend to play a leading role in the most significant transition the industry has ever seen,” Airbus (EADSF) CEO Guillaume Faury said in a statement.

Airlines and aircraft manufacturers face growing pressure to tackle carbon emissions, with some governments linking climate crisis targets to coronavirus bailouts. The pandemic has plunged aviation into its worst crisis ever and is expected to accelerate the transition to renewable forms of energy, as governments seize the opportunity to promote a green recovery.

In order to significantly reduce its emissions, the aviation industry will need to reduce its dependence on crude oil-based jet fuel and increasingly look to sustainable aviation fuels. But these are still largely untapped.

Faury said hydrogen, both in synthetic fuels and as a primary energy source for commercial aircraft, has the potential to “dramatically reduce the climate impact of aviation.”The three ZEROe concepts unveiled by Airbus include a turbojet, a turboprop and a mixed-wing body. The turbojet design would carry 120 to 200 passengers with a range of over 2,000 nautical miles. It will be powered by a modified gas turbine engine running on hydrogen, rather than jet fuel, by combustion.

The turboprop design would carry up to 100 passengers and be able to cover over 1,000 nautical miles, making it suitable for short-haul travel.

A mixed-wing body design would carry up to 200 passengers. The wings would merge with the main body of the aircraft, which has a range similar to that of the turbojet.

Design of the Airbus ZEROe mixed-wing body.

The transition to hydrogen will require “decisive action from the entire aeronautical ecosystem,” added Faury. For example, airports will require significant hydrogen transport and refueling infrastructure.

Government support will also be needed, including increased funding for research and technology, as well as mechanisms that encourage the use of sustainable aviation fuels and encourage airlines to replace less environmentally friendly aircraft sooner. .

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