The potential of hydrogen for aviation and its integration in the airport system

Videoconference, 24 May 2023 — The use of hydrogen in commercial aviation and its future integration in the airport systems was the topic addressed at the 19th monthly familiarisation webinar on basic knowledge on aviation and the environment. Seventy-four participants from ECAC Member States, organisations and stakeholders joined this capacity-building activity.

The ECAC Secretariat introduced the topic, emphasising that while hydrogen is already used to produce sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), its direct use to fuel aircraft engines is considered a relevant future element of decarbonising aviation. While it will require significant investment in aircraft and infrastructure development, the long-term benefits are expected to balance the initial costs.

Bertrand Lestimé, ZEROe Market and Customers Leader at Airbus, presented the industry’s roadmap to zero emissions and the current Airbus work on the use of H2 technology in aviation, including various technology pathways and aircraft configurations. He underlined that airports would become hydrogen hubs in the future.

Pierre Hamelin, Vice-President Hydrogen Energy Partnerships Operations at Air Liquide, exhibited the work Air Liquide is developing to prepare airports for the hydrogen era. He stressed that Liquid H2 is the most sustainable decarbonised aviation fuel as it does not generate any CO2 or NOx emissions. He explained that its cost is expected to be competitive in the future, and that airports need to start preparing now. Feasibility studies will be needed in the short-term and supply chains will need to be developed in parallel to the new aircraft technologies. Mr Hamelin concluded that integration of the infrastructure is feasible in most airports, and he shared a case study Air Liquide is developing in cooperation with Airbus and Groupe ADP to make Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports “hydrogen ready”.