New hydrogen flights concept unveiled


United KingdomPassengers on a concept aircraft unveiled by the Aerospace Technology Institute could one day fly anywhere in the world with no carbon emissions and only one stop.

Up to 279 passengers could fly direct from London to San Francisco, USA, or Auckland, New Zealand, with the same speed and comfort as today’s aircraft, reshaping the future of air travel.

The concept, developed by a team of aerospace and aviation experts from across the UK working on the government-backed FlyZero project, demonstrates the enormous potential of green liquid hydrogen for air travel not just regionally or in short-haul flights, but for global connectivity. When burned, liquid hydrogen emits no CO2 and has three times the energy of kerosene and sixty times the energy of batteries per kilogramme.

There are significant technological challenges to achieving green liquid hydrogen-powered flight, but there is a growing incentive and reward for overcoming these. With other industries embracing hydrogen energy, increased demand is expected to result in lower supply costs. From the mid-2030s onwards, a new generation of highly efficient hydrogen-powered aircraft with low fuel costs is expected to outperform conventional aircraft in terms of operating economics.

FlyZero has identified the on-board technologies that, along with the infrastructure and ground equipment for refueling, require rapid development in order to deliver zero-carbon emission flight. Wings without fuel tanks (dry wings), hydrogen tanks, cryogenic fuel systems, fuel cells and electrical power systems, and hydrogen gas turbines are among the advanced technologies.

The FlyZero project’s detailed findings, including three final aircraft concepts (regional, narrowbody, and midsize), technology roadmaps, market and economic reports, and a sustainability assessment, will be published in early 2022. These results will help shape the future of global aviation, positioning the UK to be at the forefront of sustainable flight design, manufacture, technology, and skills for many years to come.