• Airbus thinks it will be able to fly a first hydrogen aircraft in 2025.

  • The European aircraft manufacturer must first resolve the difficulty of storing liquid hydrogen.

  • This major mission is entrusted to the Nantes and Bremen factories.

Airbus believes in a future aircraft running on hydrogen and decides to accelerate in this direction.

The European aircraft manufacturer thus announces that it will create two zero-emission development centers (ZEDC) at its sites in Nantes-Bouguenais and Bremen (Germany).

“The objective of the ZEDCs is to manufacture cryogenic [hydrogen] tanks at competitive costs in order to successfully launch the zero-emission aircraft on the market and to accelerate the development of hydrogen propulsion technologies.

The design and integration of the tanks are crucial for the performance of a future hydrogen airplane, ”explains Airbus.

The two development centers will be complementary and fully operational "by 2023" to build liquid hydrogen tanks.

The first flight test is "scheduled for 2025".

Hydrogen much more complex to store

Why was the Nantes site chosen?

Because of "its in-depth skills in the integration of metal structures linked to the central wing box, the latter sometimes serving as a central tank, critical for the safety of commercial aircraft", explains Airbus.

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“The Nantes site will provide expertise in a wide range of metallic and composite technologies, and integration.

His experience in co-design on nacelle air intakes, radomes and complex structural assemblies of the central fuselage is a real asset, ”adds the aircraft manufacturer.

The proximity of the Jules-Verne Technological Research Institute is also an asset.

Hydrogen is more complex to use than kerosene because it must be stored at -250 ° C to liquefy.

Liquefaction is necessary to increase the density.

For commercial aviation, the challenge is to develop a component capable of withstanding the repeated thermal and pressure cycles required by an aeronautical application.

Initially, the hydrogen tanks intended for commercial aviation will be metallic.


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