Airbus and CFM reveal ZEROe demonstrator aircraft

February 22, 2022, © Leeham News: Airbus and the CFM partners, GE Aviation and SAFRAN, presented a ZEROe Sustainability demonstrator today that builds on a heavily modified A380 prototype.

On the rear roof of the A380, a pylon is integrated where a hydrogen combustion GE Passport engine is mounted, feed with hydrogen from a sealed enclosure on the main deck that contains four liquid hydrogen tanks.

The choice of the A380 for the demonstrator allows a lot of test equipment and test engineers to be housed in the test aircraft, monitoring the functioning of the propulsion system.

The demonstrator will start the flight tests end of 2026 to prepare decisions around the 2035 Hydrogen passenger aircraft configuration for 2027.

Figure 1. The ZEROe demonstrator is based on the A380. Source: Airbus.

Why this engine placement on an A380

The choice of the test engine for hydrogen combustion, the GE Passport Biz-jet engine used in the Bombardier Global 7500 long-range business jet, is because it’s light enough to mount in the dorsal position at the rear of the A380. It also has the modern core engine architecture that is important for the trials with H2 combustion and study of the H20 and NOx gas residues that form from this combustion.

The placement high up and separate from the A380’s main engines is important. An essential part of the flight trials is to measure how the water vapor from the burn of H2 with the air’s Oxygen forms into water vapor contrails.

This formation and how it affects the environment is the critical issue with H2 combustion versus letting it react with Oxygen in a fuel cell, producing electricity. The fuel cell process also generates H2O, but now in a liquid form that does not create contrails.

By putting the engine high up and inside the main engines, the converted Passport engine’s exhaust stream can be measured well separated from the A380 main engine exhausts by a trailing measurement aircraft.

The installation in the A380

The placement of the different parts of the hydrogen propulsion in the first A380 test aircraft, MSN01, is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. The main components of the Hydrogen test installation. Source: Airbus and Leeham Co.

The four tanks are placed in a special sealed container, suspended off the main floor at the rear of the cabin, Figure 3.

Figure 3. Glenn Llewellyn, Airbus VP ZERO emission aircraft, shows the placement of the tanks in MSN01. Source: Airbus.

The MSN01 A380 is ideal as a test aircraft as these tests are all about collecting as much data as possible around the behavior of the Cryogenic (-253°C) tanks, their piping, and valving for filling, feeding, and venting of the hydrogen and how the engine runs.

The substantial MSN01 test racks will be updated with test computers and gear for these tests. The whole installation will be tested on the ground before test flights start end of 2026. Before the installation in MSN01, each component has endured endless tests in ground test environments.

The different tanks, some CFRP (Composite) and some Metallic, start their testing this year in Bremen, Nantes, and Madrid (Airbus cryogenic tank design centers).

The A380 is ideal as a ZEROe test aircraft as it has the volume, power, and facilities for the extensive testing of the tanks and engine, Figure 3.

Figure 3. The MSN01 test rack installations. Source: Airbus.

The data from the test will be processed in real-time, both at the aircraft by test engineers and by ground crews, through data link feeds, Figure 4.

Figure 4. Lewellyn shows one of the test engineers’ stations that will be updated. Source: Airbus.

What does this mean for the 2035 Airbus hydrogen airliner?

Does the announcement today mean the airliner that will come to market by 2035 will be a hydrogen combustion solution?

The flight testing of the combustion engine is to find out if the contrail problem is real and how serious it is. Is it a problem at all, and if so, can technical solutions or operational procedures alleviate the problem?

As I have written in my Corner series, a gas turbine with hydrogen combustion is a solution that is technically more straightforward than the route over a fuel cell and electric motors driving the fans or propellers. GE has eight million hours of H2 Gas Turbine combustion experience from ground gas turbine installations, so converting a gas turbine to hydrogen is a known technology.

The advantage of the fuel cell is the absence of a contrail problem and no NOx emissions (these will remain but be reduced five times with H2 gas turbines versus today’s carbon-burning engines). So the fuel cell is a true ZERO emission solution, but there are substantial installation challenges to master as fuel cell systems are heavy and produce more heat than electrical power when running.

Airbus works both these technical solutions with its partners, and the decision which way to go will be made in 2027 after these trials are done.

We can expect to hear more about Airbus Fuel Cell activities as these technologies are brought to maturity in different ground rigs.

111 Comments on “Airbus and CFM reveal ZEROe demonstrator aircraft

  1. Well an A380 is handier to get than a C5 or a AN-124!

    Of course it takes a 4 engine aircraft to have enough tankerage to supply what amounts to a trolling engine!

    They could at least put it to work as an APU!

  2. WOW…what a surprise!
    Interesting choice of aircraft. When you think about it, a hydrogen-powered A380 could still carry a very large number of passengers, despite a large aft portion of the fuselage being used for hydrogen tanks.

    • Its not hydrogen ‘powered’. The power for the plane comes from its existing 4 engines.
      The test engine location, as in similar supplementary pylons on 747s, is for in flight tests only. If it replaced one of the main engines, which is likely to be next step with a large turbo fan, then you could say the plane is powered by hydrogen fuel

      • I wasn’t talking about this particular testbed.
        I was talking about a potential A380 with only hydrogen-powered engines.

        • 100 passengers full range maybe!

          I know its technical but mile for mile, a wide body is a lot heavier than a single aisle.

          And the single aisle Hydrogen is (1500 mils?)

          Yep, it would be a real winner.

          Same Pax numbers as the concord at less than half the speed, whats not to like.

          • BTW, here’s a concept for a LH2-powered twin derived from the A380 and A350:


            Through evaluation and analysis, the option of using an existing aircraft to achieve this objective was ruled out; it was apparent that such a vehicle would be very inefficient. A careful evaluation procedure was introduced (Huete et al. 2020-1) to down-select a reasonable vehicle from a wide range of options. It was concluded that the volume–mass relationships are such that a reasonable approach would be to consider a design that integrated the airframe of a 600tonne double-decker airliner (inspired by the Airbus A380(10)), with the wing and engines of a long-range twin-engine airliner (inspired by the Airbus A350-1000 with its Trent XWB turbofans(11)). The evaluation was an iterative process, and only the final result is shown here. This exercise gave rise to a family of three aircraft variants, labelled HVLMR, HVLLR and HVLER.

          • I think it is time to accept that the current way of flying, using fossil fuels is too cheap – true cost of emissions is not factored in. True cost = planet that is not habitable for all, which equals mega $$.

            Flying renewable with SAF of H2 is going to alter the economics of flying, it will become much more expensive and less accessible to the broad public. It will force people to really consider whether something is worth flying for.

            Comparing renewable powered flying to traditional powered flight is never going to be favorable, unless we accept it is (unfortunately) the only way forward. At least there are engineers working hard to keep the economics as pretty as possible.

          • @ bob
            Can you name any transport mode or industry where the “true cost of emissions is factored in”?

          • Nope, also not my point. We are in for a transition with quite some fall-out on business models to which we will need to adjust.

        • @Bryce

          Here’s a concept for the development and integration of the body of a very large double-deck quad (A380) with the engines, wings and flight control surfaces of a long-range twin (A350) — i.e. an interesting lego engineering concept….

          This paper describes an investigation into three hypothetical propulsion integration configurations with different tank locations for storing fuel. The investigation is philosophical in nature and is backed by detailed calculations. A family of civil aircraft using hydrogen fuel in gas turbine engines could be developed using the main components of two existing aircraft as a basis for the design. A very large two-deck transport design would provide the fuselageA380 fuselage, while the wings, engines and tail surfaces would be derived from a very long-range twin A350 wing. The family would comprise three configurations: HVLMR, HVLLR and HVLER. This family exhibits a payload and range that is significantly smaller than the ‘donor’ aircraft, but its characteristics are sufficiently attractive to be considered as a launch option for a first generation of zero-carbon aircraft. The range of the HVLER is chosen strategically to allow flights from any point on the planet to any other with just one stop. Figure 7 shows the strategic positioning of the family.

    • It is not a “hydrogen powered 380”.

      This here is a luxury full size engine test stand for Hydrogen fueled jet engines. 🙂

    • It was available, fully equipped with test stations, has space for hydrogen tanks, valves, pipes, pumps, regulators, instrumentation…. besides space for safety equipment if they have a leak or a burst and need to pump all LH2 and H2 over board or into separate tanks with its coolers and control circuits. Like a mini spaceport fuel station.

  3. Interesting in this context: for production hydrogen aircraft, Airbus wants to make its own engines!

    “That Airbus wants to make the engines in-house is a big step. Guillaume Faury, chief executive of Airbus, said in an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that manufacturing the engines in-house is among the possibilities. It would be a major turning point for the aircraft manufacturer since hydrogen engines require a different type of production line than standard kerosene-powered jet engines.”,coming%20decades%2C%20especially%20in%20Europe.

    • This ist a very wird statements. Unless Airbus buys an engine manufacturer, there is hardly any chance to build up ist own Gas Turbine Technology. Also GTs burning hydrogen do not look much different to the conventional ones. The combustion chamber and the fuel injection system need adaptations and the turbine may need improved thermal barrier coatings and alloys due to the higher combustion temperatures. There is tremendous research and developments ongoing, which Airbus can never match to develop their own engines

      • It’s worth the effort, so as to be rid of the political trickery, nationalism and conflicts of interest that pervade the present engine landscape (e.g potential embargoes on shipments of CFM engines to China). There are plenty of industrial heavyweights in the EU who could contribute.

        Not an impossible task to supplant the incumbants in an industry: for example, SpaceX builds better rockets than NASA.

        • That is a hoot. Seeing as how the competition was using Russian Rocket engines from the 50s, not a tech leap as it might seem.

          So, the vaunted Chinese can’t make a good jet engine, Airbus is going to? Really? Phewee.

          • You forgot the Russians: they have a homemade turbofan for the MC-21.
            So it can be done. Not by BA, of course: braindrain, lack of funds, and living from day to day.

          • No, because both Boeing and Airbus understand the issues of building engines.

            Russia has been building jet engines since it captured the ME262, its engines and some engineers as the ones the Brits gave them.

            So yes, the Russians can do it, they got more than 60 years at it, China can only make poor copies which is why they buy their engines from others (or limp along on the poor copies)

            Airbus is not going into the engine business, period.

          • A sullen reaction: AB making its own powerplants would, of course, further erode US exports, aswell as US ability to manipulate trade.

            If Airbus wants to go into the engine business, then it will go into the engine business, period.

          • @TW

            Explain what exactly Boeing knows about building jet engines??

          • @ Pedro
            An even more pertinent question: what does BA know (any more) about building planes?

          • @TW

            How come BA’s ULA has been sole sourcing engines from you know who, sleeping with the enemy?? Can’t it make its own? What happened in the 60s and 70s?

          • “oxygen rich combustion”.
            deemed impossible. It was a tech leap for the US.

            the fuel rich closed cycle SSME engine is based on a Ludwig Bölkow patent. IMU license fees were paid. 🙂

        • Airbus could make its own jet engines and good ones. There are people out there to hire and plenty of companies that can fabricate turbine blades independently. It would cost a lot of money but could be done.

    • I don’t know to what degree it would apply to Airbus but there is an anti-trust regulation in the US that prohibits the manufacture of aircraft frames and aircraft engines by the same company.

      Which is strange, Apple makes it’s own cpu’s. Car makers build their own engines, why this carve out.

      • jbeeko:

        That is from the (early 30s?) and I don’t think its accurate.

        They broke up Boeing Airplane /Airline link aka monopoly sort of thing.

        As far as I know, engines were not involved. Its always been such a huge different field and there was back in the day, major competition, not just P&W but Wright and several other mfgs (Allison was in the game as well though that was Liquid cooled)

        • The future of the aviation market lies in Asia.
          The US will probably be the last country to switch to sustainable fuels.

        • United Airlines, P&W and Boeing was part of United Aircrafts before it was broken up. Still you have UAL launching new Boeing aircrafts with P&W engines like 757, 767,777. By the time of 787 Boeing had seen enough of P&W problems and they were not invited. P&W normally solves their problems by time and today the PW1100G is quite competetive.

    • Not sure where that outlet got their info, but the interview I read with Faury said ‘motor’ and not ‘engine’, referring to Airbus building the electric motor in an airplane with Fuel Cells & Electric Propulsion, and not building a jet engine for H2 combustion. Airbus is obviously leaving the jet engine to CFM. Sorry, can’t find link right now, but I think it might have been Reuters.

    • I think they are talking of electric motors driving ducted fans that are powered by fuel cells.

      • Yes, they could team up with windmill generators manufacturers to get a MW engine, Siemens-Gamesa, Vestas, Enercon,… GE Wind might wait until it is sold off by GE maybe to the French.. You need a major resizing as you can benefit from 3600rpm instead of 3 rpm.

        • Some of the wind turbine makers are already using superconducting generators in their commercial product. The reduced weight at the hub is very beneficial in terms of the structure. I suspect the motors will be designed for direct drive of the fan so as to avoid the need for a gearbox.

        • Windturbines are geared. ~~1:50
          30rpm -> 1500rmp generator -> 4pole layout

          But all the propulsion PM designs tend to have much higher pole count.

          • Enercon and several others are gearless.
            A 2 Pole motor will turn at inverter frequency.
            A PW 1100G fan runs at 4000-5000 RPM so a 2Pole motor running at 75 Hz should get about the same RPM.

          • grid sync is required for classic wind turbine generators. Enercon used to work with high pole counts, another solution is (high) variable freq generation. DC intermediate and grid attachment via Inverter.

            Elsewhere design Power is driven by “some formfactor” _times_ “frequency”.
            Depending on how you can reduce the high frequency losses drive frequency should be as high as possible.
            ( Just look at power density : 50/60Hz vs 400Hz! )

          • If they go for MW fuel cells they deliver DC and water steam. It would be more elegant if they could design high power, low weight DC motors instead of stuffing it with LH2 cooled power electronics to make it AC and then feed varying Voltage and Frequency to a synchronous AC motor. Just look at the 787 power electronics for the engine starter/generators to get a feel for the cost and mass of heavy black Hamilton Sundstrand power electronics 1/100 of the size required..

          • There are no competitive brushed DC motors around.
            Over all domains it’s going towards electronically comutated.

            VFD drivers are getting cheaper, more robust and more efficient all the time. As i wrote earlier: Boeing entered that domain too early. They have probably learned a lot about small scale water cooling. 🙂

          • @Uwe, Indeed brushed motors are a dead end for aviation. Apart from the brush maintenance issues, certainly checks ever 1-2 weeks the brushes need to be maintained at precise humidity and temperature and pressures. The graphite relies on water molecules.

    • From Reuters 2/22: Chief Executive Guillaume Faury was quoted earlier this month by Welt am Sonntag as saying Airbus could go it alone and make engines for its future hydrogen-fueled planes.

      But Faury played down the prospect of Airbus moving into engine-making at a results presentation last week, telling reporters it “would require a change of strategy, and I have not indicated that we have changed our strategy on that one”.

  4. This is absolutely fascinating!
    Airbus leads the way. Snarky comments aside from other commenters, this is the early days for innovation in this technology and it’s going to be fun to watch as the technology matures. I realize H2 is challenging for commercial aircraft applications, but I’m sure it has a future.
    And just what is Boeing doing? That’s right, still scratching their heads on a fix for the 20 year old program called the 787.

    • Airdoc:

      I was having some fun with it, its interesting but as noted prior, I just don’t see how Hydrogen competes.

      Range even on the single aisle is seriously limited and there is no tech that makes it better.

      What I would like to see is a path to how its implemented.

      It can be mandated in the EU, but the EU can’t mandate to any other AHJ (which includes the UK being out of EASA now)

      So, the US, China, India would all have to agree.

      And at best single aisle might work but that leaves wide body with?

      You still have jet turbine engines on probably as clean a fuel as you can get (at any given time, clean JET-A is hard to come by)

      So for an A320/MAX type we are talking about stopping mid point USA to refuel. Is that really going to fly?

      I think its interesting they are experimenting and that I am for, but someone list me a path that works in the real world?

      And cover how Airbus deals with two different single aisles as one alternative is an EU mandate that no one else follows.

      • The learned authors at LNA disagree with you over hydrogen, LH2 as a fuel.
        It will be coming on turbo props sooner than you think.

        • -There is another aspect to hydrogen. It will be attractive to countries with no indigenous oil. Some with coal will be able to use it to make hydrogen and sequester the CO2 where geology permits. New Zealand likely.
          -I note the French government has recently authorised 6 new nuclear power plants.
          -Generating the vast amounts of CO2 emissions free energy will be a challenge (without nuclear) but it seems doable though it will be gruellingly slow. For instance 100sqm of 20% efficient photovoltaic on a small house will generate over 140kW.Hr on a sunny day and maybe 35K.W.Hr on a very overcast day. Average production should be 96kW.Hr. It’s more than enough for domestic, commercial and industrial.
          -Countries like Germany have had frosts covering their solar panels but ultimately they may just be one country that has to import (hydrogen) to supplement.

          • Duke:

            They feel its the fuel of the future, but they have not laid out how that works in implementation, just that technically it can be done (has been done)

            No one has listed a way forward for that to occur outside of the EU and even then the EU has not laid out a path as to how it would be done.

            Its like a car without an engine. You can call it a car but its a useless metal shell (maybe composites) doing nothing without the key of the engine.

          • TW its right before your eyes.

            Whats forgotten in the A380 test bed, and the diversion into a possible A380 hydrogen fuelled main engines ( never going to happen), is the GE Passport engine ‘core’ could be used for regional turbo-prop. As we are in the ‘right scale’

            If a larger standard single aisle engine needed to be tested the A340 would make a suitable test bed with the engine on a normal pylon.

            of course at some stage a full hydrogen turbo prop needs to run ‘on wing’ and maybe some Dash 7s are still around or more likely the well known C-130 as 4 engine turboprops test beds

      • Hydrogen will compete because
        1 Regulations backed by fines and maybe taxes and fees will make burning hydrocarbons more expensive, even the SAF versions.
        -Airlines are going to be charged in some way for releasing CO2 and NOX into the atmosphere. The atmosphere is seen now as being owned by all and not just a free dumping ground. It’s likely CORISA regulations will be tightened and brought forward.

        2 Cryogenic Hydrogen can be generated from electricity at 80% efficiency whereas SAF is at 50% with Direct Air Capture and may reach 60% (maybe 65% with concentrated sources), There are limits to how much biological SAF can be made.

        3 Hydrogen can be generated from hydrocarbons with the CO2 sequestered underground in several ways.

        There is a long history of safe hydrogen usage. Saturn V stages 2 and 3, Centaur upper stages, the space shuttle, Ariane etc. Space shuttle issue was with the SRB blasting a flame into the fuel tank, would have exploded no matter what was inside.

      • -Regarding concerns regarding short range of hydrogen powered aircraft. Here is a concept of a 5250nmi aircraft from the UK Aerospace Technology Institute with input by Airbus.
        -The 2000nmi limited airliner Bjorn Discussed was an A320 sized aircraft that carried all of its fuel in the rear. Once fuel is stowed in the dorsal area as well ranges of 3500-5250nmi open up. Flying wings with fuel cells also won’t have a 2000nmi limitation.
        -Kerosene will continue to be used as SAF develops.
        -Its either SAF or hydrogen or both. Both will be more expensive than mineral oil which will be banned unless offset by sequestration certificates.

        • Yes, the UK ATI design is interesting.
          Putting the hydrogen in pannier tanks in front of the wings is very clever — saves passenger space and helps tackle c.o.g. shift as the hydrogen gets used up.

        • @William

          A stretched, 80 metre long fuselage derived from the A380 looks quite promising (as shown in the previous links that I’ve provided) — perhaps with integral tanks in the aft fuselage and nonintegral tanks on the upper deck. A stretched A380 would not need to have LH2 tanks on the entire upper deck, though. Perhaps as much as one third of the upper deck (forward of the wing) could be set aside for passenger accommodation.

          Interestingly, Daniel Brewer selected the integral tank concept for his final design as shown in this link:

          Chapter 3
          Figure 3-4 Tank Structural Concepts. (A) Nonintegral; (B) Integral
          Table 2-3 Comparison of Tank Structural Concepts

          An interesting option for a large LH2 tank in the aft fuselage would have an inner aluminium tank and outer composite tank and where the outer tank is integral to the fuselage.

          Concept shown here:

          • -The A380 fuselage with A350 wing is a fascinating study that allows the use of real world weights and coefficients of lift and drag to prove it is possible to make a intercontinental range aircraft.
            -A few years of studying and building cryogenic tanks is going to come up with some fascinating tanks. I suspect they will be somewhat better than those in rockets as they will be reusable. All sorts of interesting materials, double walled metals etc.
            -The talk is of ‘dry wings’ free of any legacy of fuel carriage and presumably very thin.

          • Of course, the current A350 wing is using fuel in the outer wing for wing bending relief (as all other cantilever wings). Hence, using a “dry” A350 wing would require structural strengthening at the root and inner wing area. However, such an undertaking seem eminently doable in the mid-term.

            Now, a decrease in the thickness-to-chord ratio will increase wing weight. Perhaps, multiple spars (as shown in the link below) within a “dry” composite wing, will lead to lighter and thinner wings.


    • The US government support PWA in designing a new hydrogen engine with a more complex cycle including heat exchangers allowing the LH2 to be H2 before injection and water vapor capture for a stream injection combustor to lower burner temperatures. Most likely also using LH2 in cooling circuits for turbine air cooling, bearing compartment cooling and active clearance control. Don’t know if they dare a HPC cooling scheme to increase the HPC efficiency. With Uncle Sam paying I assume they will go for that as well in a demo engine. Then want eventually comes out as a reliable and efficient LH2 engine in the end is another story.

        • Yes, you need to identify all problems first both in design, component test and engine test. Then as you find solution after solution need to coordinate with FAA/EASA on certification standards for the new technology. I assume this is what this exercise is about. Then after new standards are issued you know what to design and test to.

  5. As a bonus, plenty of room for a piano lounge, in case the test engineers get tired of staring at those screens.

  6. Hydrogen will happen, and Airbus will lead it. Thats a no brainer. Airbus will fly H2 in a commercially viable way long before BA. After all, Europe leads the West in H2 research. Thats understandable, as they are not as deeply invested as the US in petreoleum. The gross dollars in the Oil industry VS Europe allow the the EU to maneuver away oil more easily than the US where the infrastructure needing change is many times larger than Europe. I just wish we would get around to commercial sized Thorium fueled molten salt nuke reactors……. Thats the future for power production.

    • Yes, regarding Thorium molten salt reactors, the sooner the better!
      However, trying to circumvent entrenched and outdated ideas among environmeltal activists will be very tough.

    • -Lets say it takes 7-10 years to build and test experimental thorium reactor. Then 7-10 to design a production series and then 7-10 to start building them. It’s a 21 year to 30 year time line. Better get started now. Best we can hope for is the first production reactor in 14-20 years.
      -The US has shut its program and research reactor and research is surviving on a shoe strong. China is planning to dominate the technology. Apart from producing electricity and hydrogen they see it as producing hydrocarbons, plastics and carbon fibre from DAC.
      -For those that don’t know the reactor has these advantages:
      1 Thorium is very common and much more available to mine than uranium.
      2 The molten salt reactor is a breeder reactor, millions of years of fuel.
      3 The molten salt makes reprocessing easy
      4 Waste can be transmuted to medium term waste.
      5 Safety, a leakage of the molten salt drains to a tank below the reactor where the reaction stops and the salt cools.
      6 The high temperature allows high efficiency of electricity generation, thermochemical water splitting and desalination using waste heat.

      • Also *much* less waste — about 1% of what a regular fission process produces.
        About 83% of the waste is harmless after 10 years. The remaining 17% is harmless after about 300 years. No waste components with long half lives.

      • @William,

        Thanks so much for this detail. Being an airplane guy, I’m not up on this technology. Again I find it fascinating. As this world is forced into electric propulsion (or H2), the demand the electrical generation is exponential….. the US grid is not keeping up for reasons I won’t go into here.
        I need to do more research on this type of reactors.

        • @airdoc

          The Thorium reactor was created by the USAF when they wanted to fly a Nuke Powered Bomber. It was the nifty fifties after all. There is a great doc on Netflix called “Thoriun” but its off the rotation now. There is literally nothing standing in the way of building MSRs today, the technology was proven and then mothballed because the US nuke industry was run by Rickovers naval service graduates who pushed high pressure watre cooled reactors……

  7. hmm. Concept ….An overused term often associated witb automobile companies who want to give only the impression they are on these things. To use a 380 is silly. This is a massive aircraft. I have yet to see ANY kind of hydrogen jet so ….start with getting this off the ground?? Why not try a gulfstream first?
    Always what automakers do with CONCEPTS is say it MAY come out by 2035 or 2059 …the point is make it seem plausable by putting it far enough ahead. GM had not one of their concept BS come to fruition but it got them what the PR dept and CEOs crave…..attention

  8. Boeing flailing around trying to get over MAX issues, recurrent 787 problems, delays again with 777-X.

    797 abandoned with no clear vision on what the next Boeing aircraft will be, or even what category it will be, narrow body or MOM.

    Airbus in the meantime with a sensible product line-up, possibilities for A220-500, mods to A321 and A350F launched, and now looking to the future with Hydrogen.

    Time for Boeing to really get their act together and map out a plan for the future, get back to engineering solid products.

    It’s just a thought.

    • Boeing has looked at this (as reported in Leeham) and decided SAF offers better prospects. They estimated that in some scenarios hydrogen made emissions worse. It would take 8 large 2.5MW wind turbines a day on average to make enough hydrogen (or PtL SAF) for one A321 fuel load.
      The EU is going for hydrogen, not sure if such a decision has been taken at the political level in the US.

  9. -It is important to talk about SAF as well as hydrogen. We tend to not do this as it is the province of chemists and petrochemists.
    -At the moment production of cryogenic hydrogen by electrolysis is only 70% efficient though 80% is possible but SAF can probably be produced at 60%-65% and although this is not as efficient as LH2 it is much easier to transport and stored and does not require re-cooling or suffer from boil off.
    -SAF can be made by combing CO2 and Hydrogen over catalysts via many routes. Its a well established process already run at an industrial scale.
    -CO2 can be extracted directly from Air via absorption on to Amines ( a solid material coated onto ceramic beads) and then released by warming to 90C-110C. It can also be absorbed onto sodium hydroxide and released and recycled via electrodialysis and in the US a process to electrically absorb it into alloys.
    -SAF will prove a very worthy alternative to Hydrogen. Quite a lot of oil refineries are working to convert themselves to making diesel, jet fuel plastics in this way.

    • I seem to remember that the conclusion from Bjorn’s series of Hydrogen articles was that LH2 could be put to work relatively quickly in regional turboprops, and at a later juncture in mainline narrowbody traffic up to about 3 hours. For longhaul/widebody, it is probably a much later game — although, as your UK ATI link shows above, there are interesting projects being worked on.
      In the meantime — while LH2 is getting rolled out — SAF is a very satisfactory alternative. The problem is: how many countries currently have enough surplus green electricity production to be able to produce SAF en masse? Not many…

      • It got down to the fact that Gas Turbine Jet engines can generate vast amounts of power with minimal weight thus allowing very high speed flight, high altitude flight. A turboprop can generate the same amount of take-off thrust with half the power but is limited to about 50% speed due to limited power and degrading efficiency at speed.
        Hence a electropop needs about half the size of electric motor and fuel cells as an Electric Ducted Fan.

    • But SAF doesn’t prevent NOx and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
      Therefore SAF is only suitable as carry-over technology.

      • Breathing also puts CO2 in the atmosphere 😏 The trick is to take out what you put in.

        Every intense combustion process produces NOx. Lightning produces it too. We can worry about aviation’s tiny contribution when the bigger sources are addressed.

      • Hydrogen combustion also produces high NOx due to the high flame temperature. Reducing the temperature in an compact aero engine is a challenge. The cleanest method would be the fuel cell.

      • -SAF is carbon neutral, though it does release into the upper atmosphere.
        -SAF also produces much less soot which means vapour trails can be reduced by up to 70%
        -Some synthetics do help reduce NOX but this is best reduced by engine improvements. RISE or the geared turbofans will do so simply by improved efficiency as well as better combustion.

    • Cars have been using Hydrogen for a long time. Like batteries, due to the nature of a vehicle, it can and has been done.

      Cars also do not go 500 mph and weight is not the direct issue it is with aircraft.

      • Nice of you to state what we already knew.
        The purpose of the link was to show the momentum that the hydrogen transition is gathering…though not in the US, of course, where Mr. Musk likes to say “fool cells” instead of “fuel cells”.

        • Hell doth freezes over. Tesla has produced a modified fuel cell car. Clearly they already had the drive train.

    • -YouTube is full of a couple of technical engineering experts complete with charts and words like Stoichiometry and lambda who told us hydrogen ICE won’t work and produce huge amounts of NOX. Here we are and the problems have been solved, they work particularly well as part of a hybrid drive train. Compressed hydrogen at 9600psi was a surprise as opposed to cryogenic but it works and is safe.
      -(Transworld carries a 3000psi SCUBA tank on his back, maybe he’s gone to 4000psi) and he hasn’t blown up yet while diving or driving his F150.
      The RCCI ICE engine is promising over 55% efficiency and with PtL gasoline potentially being made a 60%-65% with triptan (RON about 112) we may yet see the ICE engine be the preferred engine in an PHEV.
      Some battery cells with silicon nanowire electrodes are shipping at 450W.Hr/Kg for niche applications. That sort of density promises BEV with 1.5 to 2 times the range of gasoline.

    • @Bryce

      Interesting, but from my understanding it takes an enormous amount of electricity to produce H2. True, it can be produced with natural gas but the greenies want to shut this down as well.
      The electrical grids will not be able to keep up with the lack of focus on investment with upgrading. Solar and wind will not be the answer.

      • Indeed, solar and wind are not the answer: nice as an extra on the side, but totally unsuitable as an energy backbone in most countries.
        Thorium molten salt fission is the answer. When applied in SMRs, it should be implementable relatively quickly…assuming that the outdated, knee-jerk resistance by environmental activists can be overcome.

      • -There is “blue hydrogen” made from coal, oil or natural gas but the resulting CO2 is sequestered geologically or in minerals. Lots of ways of doing this and plenty of resources.
        -Here is what is being done in Australia right now. Brown coal is converted to Hydrogen and CO2 but the CO2 is then piped to offshore oil fields where the CO2 is sequestered and also enhances oil recovery. The H2 is exported cryogenically by a ship (right now to japan). A second ship of 10,000 ton that can carry 2000 tons compressed H2 at 2500psi is being built.
        -Could easily work in the US. Build rail to transport coal and water to a depleted oil field, converted to H2 and CO2, pump CO2 underground. Pipe the H2 to a market. Or just pipe the CO2 from the coal field.
        -Could also convert oil at a marginal oil field to H2 and CO2, pump the CO2 under ground to enhance oil recovery.
        -This would work very well in the USA with US coal and oil jobs as well as the hydrogen industry.
        -Of course purists may not like it but it gets the Green Hydrogen industry to critical mass and I see no problem with doing this for 50 years.

  10. I see that many individuals who made comments either do not think it’s possible to use hydrogen or hydrogen supply is not possible for aerospace. In due time clean hydrogen or biofuels will be the only energy source left to run everything. Fossil fuels and batteries will run out of material.

    • The Eastern Side of Canada must surely be the the most natural market for the A321XLR. Pretty much any Eastern City in Canada and Any European City in Western or Central Europe can be connected. Many parts of Latin America as well. Even Vancouver Dublin may work.

    • Sir Time may be retired by then. I believe there is some FAA regulation that says that if an aircraft that is being ‘grandfathered’ doesn’t get through the certification process within 5 years they must go through full certification. I believe both the B777-9 and B737-10 will have a close call. If B777-9 fails to get certified in 2014 at some point in 2015 it will fail the process entirely and will need to be certified as new that is fully compliant. That may add additional delays.

      • The EASA already appears to be reluctant to go ahead with certifying the 777X as a derivative.
        The timing of BA’s announcement of the HGW 787s may be an indication that even BA sees the writing on the wall w.r.t. the 777X.

    • I’d say TC is very serious indeed. The argument he gives is flawless: if the plane is four years late, then it’s evidently “not fit for purpose”.

      Interestingly, with regard to the 777X:
      “They are building the biggest aircraft and we want it. It was done at our request back in 2010, I don’t even want to think about it not being happening.”
      So the 777X was an Emirates-driven development. Since the Emirates business model is so different to that of other airlines, it’s not a surprise that there’s little appetite for the 777X at other carriers.

    • An interesting side remark is that Sir Tim mentions that Qatar engineers assessed deteriorating paint on the A350 that Qatar refused delivery off. If its true its bad for Airbus.

    • I think both the geared Ultrafan and the Advance cores are test beds. They are very large engines but they are not prototypes for commercial engines. The technology will obviously be incorporated into an engine design starting soon. Perhaps ready before 2229 if an airframe maker can be found.

  11. Is this a partnership between Airbus and CFM or between Airbus and GE?: the choice of the Passport engine, which is lighter than a CFM, and the exact role of SAFRAN in terms of engineering ? It looks more like GE research co-financed by Airbus and european nations, in line with the fact that in order to adapt a civil engine such as the Leap engine to hydrogen, the modifications are essentially in the hot section, which is the responsibility of GE within the CFM framework.

  12. The importance of China for aviation OEMs:

    “Airbus delivered a total of 142 commercial aircraft to the Chinese market in 2021, Airbus China said Wednesday.

    “China remained Airbus’ largest single-country market globally. Commercial aircraft deliveries in the country accounted for more than 23 percent of Airbus’ global deliveries in 2021, according to Airbus China.

    “The delivery volume also marks a year-on-year increase of more than 40 percent compared with its deliveries in the Chinese market in 2020.

    “Among the 142 commercial aircraft delivered to the Chinese market, 130 are single-aisle aircraft and 12 others are of wide-body models.

    “By the end of last year, around 2,100 Airbus commercial airplanes were serving in the Chinese civil aviation market. Meanwhile, more than 330 Airbus helicopters were serving in the Chinese market, according to data from Airbus China.”


    No doubt these figures will be grasped by pro-BA lobbyists in the Bridge Tanker contest to try to paint AB as being a China cohort 😉

  13. It’s hard to believe, but the 5G circus in the US is still not resolved:
    “FAA now says 5G airports may interfere with Boeing 737s”

    “The aviation watchdog’s U-turn on the 737 “was prompted by a determination that radio altimeters cannot be relied upon to perform their intended function if they experience interference from wireless broadband operations in the 3.7-3.98 GHz frequency band (5G C-Band)…” and by a determination that attempts to deal with interference and the resulting pressure put on aircraft personnel “could result in reduced ability of the flightcrew to maintain safe flight and landing of the airplane.””

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