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  • Joe Breitfeller

Airbus and CFM International to Pioneer Hydrogen Combustion Propulsion Technology

Airbus has today signed a partnership agreement with CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, to collaborate on a hydrogen demonstration program set to take flight in the middle of this decade.


Airbus A380 ZEROe Demonstrator Flight Testbed - Courtesy Airbus

On Tuesday (February 22, 2022), Airbus announced that they have signed a partnership with CFM International for collaboration on a hydrogen combustion demonstration program set to take flight by the middle of this decade. The goal of the program is to ground and flight test a direct combustion engine fueled by hydrogen, in preparation for the entry into service of a zero emission aircraft by 2035. Demonstrations will be carried out using an Airbus A380 flying testbed equipped with liquid hydrogen tanks, prepared at Airbus facilities in France and Germany. Airbus will define the hydrogen propulsion system requirements, oversee flight testing, and provide the A380 platform for cruise phase testing.


CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Engines, will modify the combustor, fuel system, and control system of a GE passport turbofan to operate on hydrogen. The U.S. assembled engine was selected for the program because of its physical size, advanced turbo machinery, and fuel flow capability. The engine will be mounted along the rear fuselage to allow the monitoring of emissions and contrails separately from the engines powering the aircraft. Ahead of A380 flight tests, CFM will execute an extensive ground test program.


In Tuesday’s announcement, Airbus’ Chief Technical Officer, Sabine Klauke, said,


“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. 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.”


Also commenting on the partnership, CFM International’s President and CEO, Gaël Méheust, said,


“Hydrogen combustion capability is one of the foundational technologies we are developing and maturing as part of the CFM RISE Program. Bringing together the collective capabilities and experience of CFM, our parent companies, and Airbus, we really do have the dream team in place to successfully demonstrate a hydrogen propulsion system.”


Airbus and CFM both aim to fulfill the promise they made by signing the Air Transport Action Group goal in October 2021, which is to achieve aviation industry net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Airbus and CFM, along with its parent companies GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines, have a long-standing relationship, and have together established a successful track record of delivering high performance products that meet the needs of airline customers.



Source: Airbus