Airbus Future Plane Concept - ZEROe - Hydrogen, New Cabins And Zero Emissions - Never Built

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The first of three major concepts unveiled today by Airbus is the new zero-emission aircraft labeled the ZEROe. Planned to enter the market by 2035, it will be powered by a hydrogen-based fuel instead of petrochemicals or electric.

What is hydrogen fuel you may ask? Well, layman's turn is that liquid hydrogen is burned with oxygen in a gas turbine, which then creates a highly efficient hybrid-electric propulsion system. The resulting emission of Hydrogen Dioxide, or water, is seemly released into the atmosphere, chemically, radioactively, and pollutant free. The only real zero-emission technology.

The killer is that hydrogen fuel can work with existing aircraft technology.
Airbus has created three concept aircraft that will use this technology.

The first is a hydrogen turboprop that looks just like an ATR72 or Q400 that is used in regional networks today. It will have a range of around 1,000 nautical miles and be powered by two special hydrogen turboprop engines. It will carry just under 100 passengers, but as it is designed for regional feeder routes its specifications suit it.

The 2nd design by Airbus is the blended wing body concept. Carrying 200 passengers to a range of 2,000 nautical miles, this aircraft looks just like the planes that we see flying in the world today - abit no emissions. The range is perfect for most routes, as the average distance traveled by most flights today is only 1,240 nautical miles or 2300 km.

The last concept, and by far the most interesting, is the blended wing concept. This will seat passengers and carry cargo in a completely different way than modern aircraft, but as the aircraft itself is the wing, it will be able to shave tens of percentiles off its fuel burn, longer range with more passengers.

One airline has already shown a heavy interest in the concept, easyJet.
"EasyJet remains absolutely committed to more sustainable flying and we know that technology is where the answer lies for the industry."

For one, while there will still be windows there will be augmented reality on the walls to improve visual fidelity. They also revealed concepts such as a living space, that can be modified for certain activities such as exercise or a bar for those to mingle.

Airbus has also suggested that there will be sleeping opportunities air quotes, such as life flat bunk beds

The concepts we unveil today offer the world a glimpse of our ambition to drive a bold vision for the future of zero-emission flight,” said Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO. “I strongly believe that the use of hydrogen - both in synthetic fuels and as a primary power source for commercial aircraft - has the potential to significantly reduce aviation's climate impact.”

Alas, there are some flaws to this hydrogen technology that we should discuss. for one, we are talking about a fuel type that isn't produced on a scale that is required by airlines around the world. Even bio-fuel production, which has seen massive advancements in recent years, is lightyears behind having really any impact on operations. And we are talking about another fuel, that doesn't exist even on the same scale as bio-fuels.

Plus, the range offered by hydrogen is much smaller than the range offered by jet fuel, and it is likely that aircraft flying today will never switch over. You can't fly more than 2,000 nautical miles on this technology, so while the idea is ambitious, there is still a need for long-haul aircraft burning petroleum. But who is to say that future versions, such as hydrogen aircraft can't compete on transatlantic journies.

Plus airports will require significant hydrogen transport and refueling infrastructure to meet the needs of day-to-day operations. Support from governments will be key to meet these ambitious objectives with increased funding for research & technology, digitalization, and there will need to be mechanisms that encourage the use of sustainable fuels and the renewal of aircraft fleets to allow airlines to retire older, less environmentally friendly aircraft earlier.

Lastly, Airbus has a bit of a pooer track record when it comes to environmental aircraft. They planned to fly an electric aircraft called the E-Fan X that had a single electric engine (and three jet fuel engines) in partnership with rolls Royce, although they ended up canceling the concept completely just this year in April. So will these hydrogen aircraft see the light of day? I won't hold my breath.

According to Airbus, the world is bright, clean although we might all get a little bit wet. With air travel firmly on the front line of climate change, any movement in the right direction to emission less travel is very good indeed.

Thanks for watching!
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