Airbus Plans A380 Hydrogen Flights In 2026 After Successful Power On Of ZEROe Engine
After the recent success in testing the hydrogen fuel cell system, the 'iron pad,' Airbus is set to install the fuel cell propulsion system on its ZEROe test bed, an Airbus 380 registered F-WWOW, for in-flight testing from 2026.
In June 2023, the team at Airbus successfully tested the hydrogen fuel cell system, which reached 1.2 megawatts, its full power level. Later that year, the propulsion system prototype, which includes the hydrogen fuel cell system and the electric motors, was powered on at 1.2 megawatts at the E-Aircracft House in Munich.
The 1.2 megawatts that the prototype reached during testing is also the power Airbus aims to test on the A380 in-flight demonstrator, according to Mathias Andriamisaina, Head of Testing and Demonstration on the ZEROe project. This brings the project closer to in-flight testing, with the next step for the ZEROe team to continue testing and to optimize the size, mass and specifications of the propulsion system for flight conditions.
What is the ZEROe project?
ZEROe gets its name from zero-emission and is Airbus's answer to the growing demand for sustainable aviation technologies. The ultimate aim of ZEROe is to produce a hydrogen-powered commercial plane by 2035 using innovative technologies and concepts.
What exactly will the first ZEROe plane look like? There is no definite answer to the question as Airbus is exploring various concepts and technologies for the aircraft. The four concepts that Airbus proposed back in 2020 will pursue either hydrogen combustion or hydrogen fuel cell technology. The latter will be used on a fully electric aircraft type and will be the one tested on the A380 demonstrator.
A new chapter for the first A380
The designated ZEROe demonstrator is also the very first A380 to be produced by Airbus, with production serial number MSN001. The aircraft was the very first ever superjumbo to take to the sky on April 27th, 2005, marking the start of a truly amazing run by the biggest commercial aircraft known to the world.