First series production A380 will be hydrogen engine testbed

Airbus and CFM signed a partnership to develop a zero-emission technology demonstration program whose first flights will take place in the middle of the decade

As already revealed, Airbus will use the A380, the largest passenger aircraft in the world, as a testbed to evaluate hydrogen propulsion technology, considered one of the most promising for reducing pollutant emissions in air travel.

On Tuesday, the planemaker and CFM, a joint venture between GE and Safran, signed a partnership agreement to collaborate on a demonstration program for a hydrogen-powered engine that will be installed on the A380 MSN1, the first series-produced.

The aircraft will receive liquid hydrogen tanks developed by Airbus and which will be installed in the rear part of the fuselage. CFM, in turn, will adapt a GE Passport engine to run on hydrogen and which will be installed on a support on the fuselage and not in place of one of the A380’s four turbofans.

CFM will supply the engine for the test program (Airbus)

“This is the most significant step undertaken at Airbus to usher in a new era of hydrogen-powered flight since the unveiling of our ZEROe concepts back in September 2020,” said Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer.

“Hydrogen combustion capability is one of the foundational technologies we are developing and maturing as part of the CFM RISE Program,” added Gaël Méheust, president & CEO of CFM.

The partners have not set a date for the flight program to start, but they estimate that it will take place in the middle of this decade. Airbus is betting on hydrogen as a solution to reach zero emission targets by 2050.

However, it will be necessary for the authorities of several countries to stimulate the change in the entire airport infrastructure to make the technology viable.

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