Airbus, the first hydrogen aircraft

The Toulouse-based manufacturer has presented three projects to reduce Co2 emissions in flight. From KLM the first test of the Flying V, the aircraft capable of carrying 360 passengers

While air transport is going through the worst crisis in its history, innovation goes on and invests in green projects with low CO2 emissions. The Dutch company KLM together with Delft University of Technology (DUT) and in collaboration with Airbus presented the prototype of the new generation aircraft, the Flying-V capable of carrying up to 360 passengers while saving 20% ​​of fuel: the first flight was carried out last July in Germany on a three-meter prototype, a success for researchers convinced that the aircraft will bring “a revolutionary change in the civil aviation sector”.

From Toulouse, Airbus has unveiled its first zero-emission aircraft models: the world’s first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft could enter service by 2035 and by that date focus on climate neutrality for the entire aviation industry.

The projects include a turbofan aircraft (120-200 passengers) – similar to a narrow-body A321neo – with a range of over 2,000 nautical miles, intended for long-haul and powered by hydrogen rather than jet fuel. The second project is a propeller plane with a capacity of 100 passengers for medium and short range and the last a “blended-wing body” with 200 seats. Airbus aims to launch the first zero-emission commercial jet by 2035.

To put pressure on the European manufacturer are the French and German governments, major shareholders of Airbus, in search of environmental solutions after they have pledged to support major airlines in exchange for energy-saving projects. “Using hydrogen as an energy source for commercial aircraft will be able to significantly reduce emissions in aviation,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury.

KLM’s new generation aircraft, the Flying-V, is an aircraft with two wings that open into a V and which, through an improvement in the aerodynamics and weight of the aircraft, could allow savings of 20% in fuel consumption. compared to current long-haul aircraft. The use of hydrogen energy is not excluded in the future, while it could hardly be converted into an electric plane. In addition to the environmental benefits, the 360 ​​passengers that Flying V plans to carry will be able to sit on seats placed in staggered rows without sharing armrests with neighbors, which in times of social distancing could prove to be a useful solution.

The test flight had to prove that the prototype could take off and land safely. The team was able to collect a large amount of flight data for future adaptations that may be needed to prepare the aircraft for new flight tests before going into production by 2040.

One wonders if this revolutionary aircraft will adapt to the post-Covid world: today airlines have reduced long-haul flights, in particular to the United States still closed to air traffic from Europe, and use smaller aircraft for the limited number of passengers: last summer only 50% of the connections were restored compared to the previous year. The sector does not expect to return to normal before 2024: in an interview, the director of Air France-KLM, Ben Smith said with the aid granted the group will be able to hold out for less than 12 months. This moment of pause will also serve to reflect and return to flying on less polluting and more efficient aircraft.


Posted in Sector News.