PARIS: Airbus is preparing to build a technology demonstrator for future hydrogen aircraft by the middle of the decade in cooperation with engine manufacturer CFM International, industry sources have said.
The aircraft manufacturer has scheduled a press conference with “key engine partners” on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. GMT on the latest stage of its project to develop a zero-emission aircraft.
Airbus declined to comment. CFM, jointly owned by General Electric and Safran and the world’s largest jet engine maker by number of units sold, also declined to comment.
The project is expected to feature a specially tuned version of the current-generation engines to advance research on the project, which is part of global efforts to reduce emissions in aviation, the sources said.
Airbus has announced that it will produce a hydrogen-powered “ZEROe” small passenger plane to enter service in 2035.
A year ago, he told the European Union that most airliners would rely on traditional jet engines until at least 2050, according to a briefing released last June.
Even so, Airbus officials say the research will seed disruptive technology that could play a role in the next generation of larger planes, while delivering radically new technology for smaller planes that can seat 50 to 100 people. .
So far, Boeing has been more cool towards hydrogen and put more emphasis on sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).
In a sign of growing alignment with Airbus on alternative technologies, CFM said last year that a separate next-generation jet engine called RISE, which it hopes to offer to jumbo jets from 2035, would be able to operate. with fuels, including hydrogen.
Airbus said it will choose the final product type for the “ZEROe” low-carbon aircraft project in 2025. It plans to refine the concept choice as early as mid-2022.
Chief executive Guillaume Faury was quoted earlier this month by Welt am Sonntag as saying Airbus could go it alone and build engines for its future hydrogen planes.
But Faury played down the prospect of Airbus getting into engine manufacturing during an earnings presentation last week, telling reporters it “would require a change in strategy, and I didn’t indicate that we had changed our strategy in this regard”.
He said working with partners on the next generation of technology is theoretically possible “and it’s not something we would completely rule out, but rather looking at it on a case-by-case basis.” (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Jan Harvey)