Airbus, EasyJet, Rolls-Royce Join Forces in U.K. on Hydrogen-Powered Flying

LONDON (Reuters) —
Hydrogen cylinders are pictured at the “wind2hydrogen” pilot plant on the day it was officially opened, in Auersthal, Austria, in 2015. (REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo)

Airbus, easyJet and Rolls-Royce have joined forces to try to position Britain at the forefront of hydrogen-powered aviation as the industry plots its course to decarbonization.

The partners launched the Hydrogen in Aviation (HIA) alliance on Tuesday to ensure that infrastructure, policy, regulatory, and safety frameworks are ready for when the first hydrogen-powered aircraft takes to the skies.

“It would be unforgivable if actually the aircraft were available ready to fly and we could operate them, but actually, it got hold back because some of these policies weren’t really in place,” easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said at a press briefing.

Airbus plans to introduce a hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft by 2035, and Lundgren said he hoped easyJet would be the first customer.

Hydrogen flight is one of several competing technologies being explored as aviation faces the daunting task of reaching net-zero emission targets by 2050.

But the fuel’s challenges include securing a ready supply produced from renewable energy, redesigning aircraft for large and heavy tanks, and new infrastructure at airports.

The HIA partners, who include British parts-maker GKN Aerospace and Denmark-based green energy company Orsted, said there was a huge amount of work to do to set up the relevant frameworks, and they needed to work with government plus aviation and safety regulators.

Before the end of 2023, the HIA said it will produce a report setting out the milestones that need to be met over the next 10 years to make hydrogen-flying a reality.

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