Defenders of the environment will have to be patient. The long march towards the “zero carbon” plane has only just begun. On the occasion of the Airbus Summit event, which was held on September 21 and 22, in Toulouse, Guillaume Faury, CEO of the group, confirmed that the first hydrogen-powered aircraft, therefore neutral in CO emissions2, would not arrive before 2035. If the schedule is respected, because uncertainties remain. “We are still in the study phase”, tempered the boss of Airbus. It is not before 2025 that the aircraft manufacturer could decide to embark on the design, then the production, of a first hydrogen device.
For manufacturers, the electric motor is not a technology suitable for medium and long-haul
For the boss of Airbus, there is no alternative. “We take the bull by the horns. We decided, two years ago, to accelerate on hydrogen “, he said. Indeed, for manufacturers, the electric motor is not a suitable technology for propelling medium-haul aircraft and even less long-haul ones. “We will not see an electrical device for hundreds of passengers”, estimates Matheu Parr, director of electric aviation activities for the Rolls-Royce engine manufacturer.
The Airbus Summit was an opportunity for all those involved in air transport to trace the stages of the gradual decarbonization of aircraft. Because the boss of Airbus warned: “I don’t want to give the impression that Airbus is betting everything on hydrogen”, in particular because, “On the long haul, fuel will be needed for a long time to come”. Over the next fifteen years, manufacturers, airlines, regulatory authorities, airport managers and oil companies want to deploy a whole arsenal of initiatives and devices to reduce CO emissions.2 air transport.
Alternative fuels while waiting for hydrogen
For Airbus and others, the main asset to achieve an 80% reduction in CO emissions2, while waiting for hydrogen, these are alternative fuels – or sustainable alternatives fuels (SAF), as the Anglo-Saxons say. The current airliners are already certified to introduce up to 50% in their tanks. But two main problems block their use by airlines. These biofuels cost six to seven times more than kerosene, and stocks are scarce.
“We are not using SAF at the moment, because they are unavailable and too expensive”, confirms David Morgan, Head of Flight Operations for EasyJet. This is why, aircraft manufacturers and airlines, like Mr. Faury, are asking “A global regulatory framework, involving at least Europe, the United States and China, which encourages the use of SAF and which encourages energy companies to produce more”.
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