Airbus selects Ariane to support its zero-emission aircraft demonstration

Ariane Group will provide the infrastructure to refuel airplanes with liquid hydrogen and support Airbus’ hydrogen demonstration program.

ArianeGroup will leverage decades of experience in using liquid hydrogen for Ariane launcher propulsion.

The facility will be operational in Toulouse (Blagnac), France in 2025.

ArianeGroup has signed a contract with Airbus to provide the infrastructure for refuelling airplanes with liquid hydrogen and support Airbus’ hydrogen demonstration program planned for the middle of this decade.

The objective of this program is to ground- and flight-test an aircraft demonstrator fueled by hydrogen, in preparation for the entry into service of a zero-emission aircraft by 2035. The demonstration will use an A380 flying testbed aircraft.

Airbus’ choice of us as partner is a vote of confidence, recognizing half a century of expertise in liquid hydrogen for Ariane rocket propulsion,” said André-Hubert Roussel, CEO of ArianeGroup. “We are proud to be working with Airbus on these first steps towards liquid hydrogen-powered aircraft. Aviation and space are two pioneering industries. Uniting our expertise is our responsibility to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. ArianeGroup, with its unique skills and know-how in the storage, testing, and use of liquid hydrogen, enables new industrial sectors in Europe to accelerate their energy transition.”

“Many of the technologies required for a zero-emission aircraft are already available in other industries, and liquid hydrogen handling is no exception,” said Sabine Klauke, Chief Technical Officer, Airbus. “Preparing for the entry into service of a zero-emission aircraft in 2035 means that we need to mature all of the required technologies in parallel. By partnering with ArianeGroup, we will leverage well-known hydrogen expertise and other relevant space technologies in the pursuit of this goal.”

ArianeGroup was selected by Airbus after a competitive process to design, produce, and support the operations of the ground refueling system for filling and emptying the liquid hydrogen contained in the A380 tanks. The system will be designed by ArianeGroup teams in Vernon (France) and installed at Airbus’ premises in Toulouse Blagnac.

This new project follows the successful cooperation between ArianeGroup and Airbus initiated in the Hyperion project, coordinated by Safran for the French civil aviation authority (DGAC). Other projects to further accelerate technology maturation for zero-emission aircraft are under discussion by Airbus and ArianeGroup.

ArianeGroup is lead contractor for the Ariane 5 and 6 launch vehicles, mastering liquid hydrogen management for more than 40 years. In addition, ArianeGroup brings proven space procedures for test and maintenance – its Vernon Test Center is the largest hydrogen test center in Europe.

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