The aircraft manufacturer is converting its first Airbus A380 into a hydrogen test aircraft. To do this, he installed an additional engine in the rear of the fuselage. It comes from CFM.
Airbus has found a partner for the development of hydrogen propulsion among the engine manufacturers. The aircraft manufacturer will hold a hydrogen pilot program with CFM International, a joint venture between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, it announced Tuesday (February 22).
“The goal of the program is to test a hydrogen-powered direct combustion engine in ground and flight tests in preparation for entry into a zero-emissions aircraft, planned for 2035,” Airbus said. The test vehicle will be the first Airbus A380 to be built with the MSN001 serial number.
Four tanks in one container
The giant aircraft will have a test engine in the upper part of the aft fuselage. It is fed with liquid hydrogen from four tanks installed in an airtight container on the main deck. In total, the plane should be able to carry 400 kilograms of hydrogen for testing, according to Airbus technical director Sabine Kluck.
CFM will modify the combustion, fuel system and control system of the GE Passport propeller to run on hydrogen. The engine maker will first perform extensive ground tests.
First flights only at the end of 2026
On the A380, a special engine mode must ensure that emissions, including jets, can be monitored separately from emissions from the four A380 engines. According to Sabine Kluck, ground tests should begin in 2022. “We plan to start flights at the end of 2026.” This is a little later than expected. When the year 2025 was discussed for the first flight.
The Chief Technology Officer explained that the A380 is ideal for testing because it offers plenty of space and therefore many options for the installation of test facilities. There will also be minor changes in the cockpit. There will be a separate thrust lever for the hydrogen engine, as well as a display with the most important operating data.
In the photo gallery above, you can see what the hydrogen A380 should look like.
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