The French aerospace giant announced a new partnership with CFM International to use the giant airframe to test fly a hydrogen-powered engine, hoping to bring it into service in 13 years.
Partnership Looks to Adapt GE Engine for Hydrogen for A380 Test Flights
The partnership between Airbus and CFM – itself a joint venture between GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines – will see the two companies work together to create an engine powered by hydrogen instead of traditional fuels. CFM will provide the powerplant, which will then be mounted on an Airbus A380 airframe.
The engine will be based on a GE Passport, currently featured on the Bombardier Global 7500. CFM will work to fit the powerplant’s combustor, fuel system and control system to work with hydrogen fuel. Once complete, it will be mounted on the first A380 to come off the production line: A380 MSN1.
“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,” Sabine Klauke, Airbus chief technical officer, said in a press release. “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 zero-emission flight a reality.”
The smaller GE Passport engine was selected for the test because of its size, turbo machinery and fuel flow capacity. After an extensive ground testing platform, it will be mounted towards the rear of A380 MSN1 to test both emissions and contrails from the engine. It is unclear when the smaller engine will get its first flight aboard the A380.
Airbus-CFM Venture Latest Attempt to Reduce Aviation Carbon Footprint
Both Airbus and CFM are signatories to the Air Transport Action Group goal of bringing the aviation industry to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, with this project the latest attempt to cut the industry’s dependence on fossil fuels. In 2021, United Airlines announced an investment in air mobility company Archer to develop electric air taxis to deliver passengers to hub airports.
Feature image courtesy: Airbus S.A.S.
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