The European airframer has unveiled a trio of designs for the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft, which it says could enter service by 2035
Airbus has uncovered the first three variants of its new emission-free commercial aircraft line-up.
The concepts each present a different approach to achieving the goal of zero-carbon flight while exploring various technology pathways and aerodynamic configurations.
All these models rely on hydrogen as a primary power source – an option that Airbus thinks holds the most promise as an option for clean aviation fuel.
Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO, commented: “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.”
The three concepts – all codenamed “ZEROe” – include a turbofan, turboprop and “blended-wing body” designs.
The first, which is planned to be able to carry between 120 and 200 passengers, is expected to have a range of more than 2,000 nautical miles. Being capable of transcontinental operations and powered by a modified gas-turbine engine running on hydrogen, the aircraft fulfils a role currently held by the company’s A320neo Family.
The turboprop offering is designed to seat up to 100 passengers and is expected to use two modified gas-turbine engines to drive propellers. The aircraft is projected to have a range of more than 1,000 nautical miles.
The design which departs the most from today’s configurations is the “blended-wing body” concept in which, the wings merge with the main fuselage of the aircraft. While the range remains similar to that of the turbofan concept – the exceptionally wide airframe opens up multiple options for hydrogen storage and distribution.