Come fly with me: FFI and Airbus want hydrogen-based planes in the air by 2035
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Two of the world’s leading companies – European plane maker Airbus and Twiggy Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), the hydrogen unit of iron ore giant Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG), have joined forces to support the entry-into-service of a hydrogen-based aircraft by 2035.
The partnership, marked by a signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) yesterday, will see the two entities collaborating to help enable the decarbonisation of the aviation industry through zero-emissions green hydrogen as fuel.
Green hydrogen, unlike other forms of hydrogen, is made from water using 100 per cent renewable electricity.
The partners will look at the challenges of hydrogen regulations, supply, infrastructure and fuelling for aviation, from the production of hydrogen to its delivery to airports and transfer on-board aircraft.
While financial details were not available, it is expected FFI will provide cost outlook and technology drivers on various elements of the supply chain and will build infrastructure deployment scenarios for the supply of green hydrogen to targeted airports.
Airbus, on the other hand, will provide characteristics on fleet energy usage, scenarios for hydrogen demand in aviation, refuelling specifications, and aviation regulatory framework.
With the global aviation industry producing more than 2.5pc of the world’s carbon dioxide, more than doubling since the 1980s, FFI founder Twiggy Forrest said the time is now for a green revolution in the aviation industry.
“We are all citizens of a global world and people want to travel, reunite with family and friends and explore new places without being forced to pollute the planet,” he said.
“The problem isn’t travel, the problem is how we fuel our planes and ships – all of that must turn emissions free.
“No greenwash, no mirage, just 100 per cent green.”
Airbus vice president Glenn Llewellyn said partnerships and cross-cultural approaches are a necessity to make zero-emission aviation a reality.
“Airbus is preparing itself to put a zero emission aircraft in service by 2035 but this will only be possible if we can ensure enough green hydrogen is produced worldwide and I’m thrilled to see FFI enthusiasm with regards to our ambition,” Llewellyn said.
Airbus revealed its intentions to see hydrogen flight take off in the middle of this decade back in late February when it announced its partnership with CFM International – a joint venture between General Electric (GE) and Safran Aircraft Engines.
In this instance, Airbus said it will use a A380 flying testbed equipped with liquid hydrogen tanks prepared at Airbus facilities in France and Germany to flight test a direct combustion engine fuelled by hydrogen.
“By leveraging the expertise of American and European engine manufacturers to make progress on hydrogen combustion technology, this international partnership sends a clear message that our industry is committed to making zero-emission flight a reality,” Airbus chief technical officer Sabine Klauke said at the time.