Airbus has revealed three concepts for the world’s first emissions-free commercial aircraft that could enter service by 2035 — and all would run on hydrogen. Each concept explores different technology pathways and aerodynamic configurations to achieve net zero.

The Toulouse, France-headquartered company’s three aircraft concepts are all codenamed “ZEROe.” The three concepts are:

Upper left in photo: A turbofan design (120-200 passengers) with a range of 2,000+ nautical miles, capable of operating transcontinentally and powered by a modified gas-turbine engine running on hydrogen, rather than jet fuel, through combustion. The liquid hydrogen will be stored and distributed via tanks located behind the rear pressure bulkhead. 

Bottom center in photo: A turboprop design (up to 100 passengers) using a turboprop engine instead of a turbofan and also powered by hydrogen combustion in modified gas-turbine engines, which would be capable of traveling more than 1,000 nautical miles, making it a perfect option for short-haul trips.

Upper right in photo: A “blended-wing body” design (up to 200 passengers) concept in which the wings merge with the main body of the aircraft with a range similar to that of the turbofan concept. The exceptionally wide fuselage opens up multiple options for hydrogen storage and distribution, and for cabin layout. 

Airports would require significant hydrogen transport and refueling infrastructure to meet day-to-day operations needs. Governmental support would be required to meet these ambitious objectives with increased funding for research and technology, digitalization, and mechanisms that encourage the use of sustainable fuels and the renewal of aircraft fleets to allow airlines to retire older aircraft earlier.

Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO, said:

These concepts will help us explore and mature the design and layout of the world’s first climate-neutral, zero-emission commercial aircraft, which we aim to put into service by 2035.

The transition to hydrogen, as the primary power source for these concept planes, will require decisive action from the entire aviation ecosystem. Together with the support from government and industrial partners we can rise up to this challenge to scale up renewable energy and hydrogen for the sustainable future of the aviation industry.

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