Airbus has partnered with CFM International, a joint company of GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, to collaborate on a hydrogen demonstration program that will take flight around the middle of this decade.
The objective of the program is to ground and flight test a direct combustion engine fueled by hydrogen in preparation for entry-into-service of a zero-emission aircraft by 2035. The demonstration will use an A380 flying testbed called the ZEROe Demonstrator equipped with liquid hydrogen tanks. The company will also define the hydrogen propulsion system requirements, oversee flight testing, and provide the A380 platform to test the hydrogen combustion engine in the cruise phase.
CFM will modify the combustion and fuel management system of a GE ‘Passport’ Turbofan, manufactured in the United States, to run on hydrogen. The engine was selected because of its physical size, advanced turbo-machinery, and fuel flow capability. It will be mounted along the rear fuselage of the flying testbed to allow engine emissions, including contrails, to be monitored separately from those of the engines powering the aircraft. CFM will execute an extensive ground test program ahead of the A380 flight test.
“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. “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 the zero-emission flight a reality.”
CFM shares Airbus’ ambition of fulfilling the promise they made in signing the Air Transport Action Group goal in October 2021 to achieve aviation industry net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by developing and testing the technology necessary to make zero-emissions aircraft a reality within the ambitious timeline defined.