With a launch decision on a hydrogen jet required as soon as 2027 or 2028 in order to meet the planned time-line, a lack of certainty about provision of the fuel is a significant issue, Faury said in a briefing on decarbonization efforts.
“The availability, or lack of availability, of green hydrogen at the right quantity, at the right place, at the right price in the second half of the decade is a concern for me,” he said. It “could be a reason for delaying the launch of the program, even if the technologies of the planes itself are mature.”
The aviation industry is under increasing pressure to reduce fossil fuel use. Toulouse, France-based Airbus, the world’s biggest planemaker, is betting that hydrogen-powered planes could be a solution for zero-emissions flying.
Faury also said that there’s no technological barrier to switching to planes 100% powered by sustainable aviation fuel — seen as a stopgap before the industry is able to offer non-carbon-based propulsion — but that supply is once again a limiting factor.
Current targets are for SAF to make up 10% of fuel needs by 2030, he said.
As part of Airbus’s push to install required infrastructure, the company said Wednesday that it’s teaming up with French aerospace specialist Safran SA to build a liquid hydrogen refueling facility for the so-called ZEROe aircraft — an A380 superjumbo fitted with an additional hydrogen combustion engine mounted along the rear fuselage — at Blagnac airport in Toulouse. The station will be operational in 2025, and Airbus said the demonstrator will be tested on the ground and in flight “towards the middle of the decade.”