CFM International (CFM), the 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, and Airbus have signed an agreement to collaborate on a hydrogen demonstration programme that will take flight around the middle of this decade.
The program objective is to ground and flight test a direct combustion engine fuelled by hydrogen, in preparation for entry-into-service of a zero-emission aircraft by 2035.
CFM will modify the combustor, fuel system, and control system of a GE PassportTM turbofan to run on hydrogen. The engine, which is assembled in the US, was selected because of its physical size, advanced turbo machinery, and fuel flow capability. It will be mounted along the rear fuselage of the flying testbed to allow engine emissions, including contrails, to be monitored separately from those of the engines powering the aircraft. CFM will execute an extensive ground test programme ahead of the A380 flight test.
The demonstration will use a 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 to test the hydrogen combustion engine in cruise phase.
“Dream team in place”
Gaël Méheust, president & CEO of CFM 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.“
“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,” said Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer. “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.”
CFM shares Airbus’ ambition of fulfilling the promise they made in signing the Air Transport Action Group goal in October 2021 to achieve aviation industry net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by developing and testing the technology necessary to make a zero emission aircraft a reality within the ambitious timeline defined.
CFM, along with GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, have a long-standing relationship with Airbus and, together, the partners have established a great track record of delivering high-performance products that meet the needs of airline customers.