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Airbus Leads Team Pushing for Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft

Hydrogen could be the key to a fossil-free aviation future.

While it appeared as though EV battery technology was anointed the clear successor to industrial combustion engines, we have seen a resurgence of hydrogen fuel projects, particularly in the automotive industry. The chief concern over EV batteries is infrastructure and the necessary improvements needed to make the transition workโ€”and yet the tech seems lightyears ahead of hydrogen.

But what if it was only a select few sites that needed infrastructure? Is hydrogen perhaps a better fit for aviation? 

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Last week, Airbus signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with several airport operators, an airline and a power company to investigate the feasibility of a hydrogen infrastructure at airports in Sweden and Norway. Working with Norwegian operator Avinor, SAS or Scandinavian Airlines, Swedish state-owned operator Swedavia and Swedish multinational power company Vattenfall, Airbus wants to see if it's possible to develop a hydrogen aviation ecosystem in both countries, including hydrogen aircraft concepts, operations, supply, infrastructure and refueling needs. 

If the project moves forward, the group will also pick which airports will be the first to operate hydrogen-powered aircraft.

Airbus says this is the first feasibility study to examine two countries and more than 50 airports, and it's part of a shared ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

According to Abraham Foss, Avinor CEO, hydrogen is emerging as a key energy carrier in a fossil-free aviation future. 

Hydrogen power could significantly reduce aircraft emissions in the air but also help decarbonize air transport activities on the ground. In 2020, Airbus unveiled the first ZEROe concept, hoping to bring the world's first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft to market by 2035.

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