Improved wing design and development of new propulsion technology will drive the major advances in sustainability, according to Dr Mark Bentall, head of research and technology at Airbus.

Innovation and design

Speaking at the Sustainable Skies World Summit 2023, he told FINN: “We have quite a large portfolio of technologies … covering all of our portfolio of aircraft, as well as the helicopter platforms. That portfolio we normally split into the major components. The biggest contributors to sustainability are really going to come from the wing from the aerodynamics side, and from the propulsion integration and the propulsion itself.”

He added: “We have a number of major research programmes running on those topics to really drive the sustainability agenda for the next generation aircraft.”

Alternative aviation fuels

Commenting on alternative fuels, he said: “Hydrogen is a perfectly valid fuel source and energy source for a future aircraft. The main way in which you produce the propulsion that you need, whether that is via a fuel cell – which we just announced at the end of last year, our research into fuel cells and fuel cell propulsion – or whether you go down the combustion road, really depends on the target product that you’re going to be aiming for.

“And so they can target different different parts of the portfolio. The airlines will have to get used to multiple fuel options. And that’s also true as it is today as it was back several years ago when we started talking about this.

“So we will see different sizes of aircraft, we will see different ranges, different profiles for those based on hydrogen, but we will still have all of the traditional aircraft with the traditional ranges, seating capacities and fuels on sustainable aviation fuel, but far more efficient platforms in the future.”
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