As part of the company’s ZEROe strategy, Airbus UpNext, a fully owned subsidiary of Airbus, has disclosed a flight (Glider) test program to investigate the contrails produced by a hydrogen combustion engine.
Project Blue Condor
In order to compare the contrails emitted at great altitudes,
The “Blue Condor” project will launch two modified Arcus gliders, one with a hydrogen combustion engine and the other with a traditional kerosene-powered combustion engine.
“Contrail characterization is of great relevance to Airbus. We are aware that burning hydrogen does not produce carbon dioxide, but that burning hydrogen does form contrails, with water vapour and heat being the main byproducts. Understanding their composition will be essential to assisting our decarbonization journey, despite the fact that these contrails are significantly different from those produced by traditional JetA/A1 combustion engines”according to Sandra Bour Schaeffer, CEO of Airbus UpNext
“By accepting this challenge, we are making significant progress toward our decarbonization strategy and our goal of putting the first commercial aircraft with zero emissions into service by 2035.”
The Perlan Project team, which is in charge of modifying the Arcus gliders, will provide assistance to the Blue Condor demonstrator.
The same pilots who in 2018 broke the world record for subsonic altitude in a pressurized glider for Airbus Perlan Mission II will also supply the high-altitude glider pilots.
While Airbus is responsible for providing the hydrogen system and equipment, including the combustion engine and the specifics of the flight test mission,
German Research Center DLR will gather and analyze data obtained using its measurement instrumentation sensors on a chase aircraft.
The test flights will be conducted back-to-back under the same meteorological conditions to verify that all data between the hydrogen engine and the conventional engine is completely comparable.
In cooperation with the University of North Dakota, test flights are planned for late 2022 in North Dakota, USA.
Airbus Hydrogen Powered Engine Test using Glider
To better understand the contrails created by sustainable aviation fuels, Airbus is also running a number of demonstration programs,
such as ECLIF3 (Emission and Climate Impact of Alternative Fuels) and VOLCAN (“VOL Avec Carburants Alternatifs Nouveaux”).
In order to perform research on upper atmospheric weather, Airbus Perlan Mission II will continue in 2023,
with plans to soar to altitudes that are close to the 90,000-foot service ceiling of the Perlan 2 glider.
If successful, Airbus Perlan Mission II would establish the all-time global wing-borne flying altitude record and would do so in a zero-emission aircraft.
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