Airbus unveils UK hydrogen research centre

Airbus has launched a UK-based facility focused on hydrogen technologies as it continues to focus on the design of its next generation of aircraft.

In a statement, Airbus – which has pledged to build the world’s first zero-emission aircraft by 2035 – said the Zero Emission Development Centre (ZEDC) in Filton, Bristol, had already begun working on the development of the technology.

One of the site’s main goals is the development of a “cost-competitive cryogenic fuel system” that its ZEROe aircraft will need.

Details of three zero-emission, “hybrid-hydrogen” concept planes under the ZEROe moniker were first released in 2020. 

The ZEDC in the UK will join other similar sites in Spain, Germany and France. 

“All Airbus ZEDCs are expected to be fully operational and ready for ground testing with the first fully functional cryogenic hydrogen tank during 2023, and with flight testing starting in 2026,” the company said.

Airbus is not the only company looking at using hydrogen in aviation. 

Last October, plans to operate commercial hydrogen-electric flights between London and Rotterdam were announced, with those behind the project hoping it will take to the skies in 2024.

At the time, aviation firm ZeroAvia said it was developing a 19-seater aircraft that would “fly entirely on hydrogen.” 

In September 2020, a six-seater hydrogen fuel cell plane from the company completed its maiden flight.

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