Airbus, Delta announce plans to develop hydrogen-powered aircraft

ATLANTA, Georgia: In a statement this week, U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines and aircraft manufacturer Airbus said they will jointly develop a hydrogen-powered passenger airplane.

Atlanta-based Delta is the first American airline that has partnered with a European plane manufacturer in developing a hydrogen powered aircraft.

Delta said the partnership does not require it to make any financial investment.

In an interview with Reuters, Amanda Simpson, vice president for research and technology at Airbus, said the manufacturer plans to produce a small "ZEROe" passenger aircraft powered by hydrogen to enter service in 2035, but it aims to receive feedback from customers while the new aircraft is being developed.

"We are in the pre-product development phase, where we are trying to understand clearly what is the realm of the possible, what is going to work," she added, as quoted by Reuters.

Last month, Airbus said, in co-operation with French-U.S. engine maker CFM International, that it would build a demonstrator to test propulsion technology for hydrogen airplanes.

The collaboration will focus on understanding the requirements for the new plane’s deployment, including the production of green hydrogen in the U.S. and its accessibility at the country’s airports, said Amelia DeLuca, vice president of Sustainability at Delta.

The partnership would also advocate for a decarbonized future in aviation, including hydrogen pathways with key stakeholders, Delta added.

U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing has expressed less confidence in the commercial prospects for hydrogen-powered air transport by 2035, focusing instead on sustainable aviation fuels.

Delta is one of Airbus’ largest customers, operating 368 Airbus aircraft. It also has purchase commitments for another 245 Airbus planes, and has options for an additional 120 aircraft.