Airbus to flight test hydrogen burning jet engine

Airbus A380 testbed

An Airbus A380 will be the flying testbed for the hydrogen burning engine, which will be mounted on the fuselage. Images: Airbus

Airbus and engine maker CFM International, a joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, are to collaborate on a hydrogen demonstrator that will fly in the next few years – possibly as early as 2026.

The objective is to test on the ground and in flight a combustion engine fuelled by hydrogen.  The demonstrator will be an A380 flying testbed equipped with liquid hydrogen tanks prepared at Airbus facilities in France and Germany. The long term aim is to have a hydrogen burning, zero-emission aircraft in service by 2035.

CFM International will modify the combustor, fuel system, and control system of a GE Passport turbofan to run on hydrogen. The engine, which will be assembled in the US, was selected for 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.

“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 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.

CFM International

Airbus hydrogen infographic