Airbus is putting himself in battle for plane of future

The European aircraft manufacturer multiplies partnerships to develop neutral carbon fuel devices by 2050.

by Guy Dutheil

Long remained a secondary subject, decarbonation has become the number one objective of Airbus. The European aircraft manufacturer is now firing all wood to arrive at the time of the carbon neutrality, scheduled for 2050. The group chaired by Guillaume Faury multiplies partnerships in order to “green” its activities and its productions as much as possible .

Two main pathways are taken: “sustainable aviation fuels” – SAF (acronym of English fuel aviation) – and propulsion by hydrogen (H2). On the occasion of the “Airbus summit”, devoted this year to sustainable aviation and organized in Toulouse and Munich, Wednesday, November 30 and Thursday, December 1, the aircraft manufacturer announced a partnership with the Dutch Neste, one Global leaders in the production of sustainable fuel (that is to say from biomass, agricultural productions or organic or food waste).

“We are in a hurry by time”, underlines Thorsten Lange, head of Neste in charge of sustainable fuels. It is true that it is necessary to do quickly to hold the deadlines. Air France, invited to Toulouse on Wednesday, confirmed its “trajectory” of SAF integration. The airline plans to consume 10 % of SAF by 2030. A rate which remains very modest.

For Mr. Lange, one of the brakes on the development of sustainable fuels, it is the oil tankers, “who must pay dividends to their shareholders” rather than investing in SAF. The transition between kerosene and sustainable fuels could be carried out more quickly. In Washington duplex, where he accompanied the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron, on an official visit, Guillaume Faury recalled that “all the planes [he produced were] certified to operate with 100 % of SAF”.

Besides the SAF, which today sin by their lack of availability and their prohibitive price (from six to seven times the cost of kerosene), Airbus also puts double bite on hydrogen propulsion. It is the other pillar of decarbonation. The Airbus boss offers to start “with planes and boats, because it will be easier than for cars, because the distribution network is underdeveloped”.

In the meantime, Airbus, in partnership with Safran, launched the tests of a hydrogen engine installed on an A380 large driver. The group has chosen to build, brick after brick, the ecosystem of the hydrogen plane. The aircraft manufacturer announced, on Wednesday, a partnership with Arianegroup, which will be responsible for “providing the infrastructure necessary for liquid hydrogen supply”. By this rapprochement, the aircraft manufacturer wants to take advantage of “the decades of experience of liquid hydrogen for the propulsion of the Ariane launcher”.

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/Media reports cited above.