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Airbus launches liquid hydrogen aircraft project at European airports

17 May 2024

Airbus has enlisted the help of academic partners, airport operators and leading hydrogen companies to demonstrate the capabilities of small-scale liquid hydrogen aircraft ground operations at three European airports.

Image: Airbus
Image: Airbus

The urge to decarbonise our economy and to develop Europe’s energy independence is leading to a major trend of hydrogen for mobility and stationary applications. Hydrogen will also be a solution to decarbonise short- and medium-haul aviation and will be crucial for the advancement of low-carbon aviation operations.

The GOLIAT (Ground Operations of LIquid hydrogen AircrafT) project will receive funding of €10.8 million from the EU’s Horizon Europe Framework Programme, over a duration of four years, and will demonstrate how high-flow liquid hydrogen (LH2) handling and refuelling technologies can be developed and used safely and reliably for airport operations.

The GOLIAT consortium consists of 10 partners from eight countries: Airbus (France, Germany, UK), Chart Industries (Czech Republic, Italy), TU Delft (Netherlands), Leibniz University Hannover (Germany), Royal Schiphol Group (Netherlands), Rotterdam The Hague Airport (Netherlands), Vinci Airports (France, Portugal), Stuttgart Airport (Germany), H2FLY (Germany), and Budapest Airport (Hungary). 

The group will support the aviation industry’s adoption of LH2 transportation and energy storage solutions by:

• Developing and demonstrating LH2 refuelling technologies scaled-up for future large commercial aircraft
• Demonstrating small-scale LH2 aircraft ground operations at airports
• Developing the standardisation and certification framework for future LH2 operations
• Assessing the sizing and economics of the hydrogen value chains for airports

As a clean and efficient fuel, LH2 offers a promising solution for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with airport operations and their dependence on fossil fuels. 

LH2’s high energy density enables long-range travel for aircraft, yet there are many steps to the widespread deployment of hydrogen at airports, including the need to better understand the operational, regulatory, economic and safety impacts, as well as the capacity and performance of technologies. 

Richard Hanke-Rauschenbach, Head of the Institute of Electric Power Systems, Leibniz University Hannover, commented: “We are very pleased to join the GOLIAT team and to contribute our expertise on techno-economics of green LH2 supply infrastructures to the project. 

“Such demonstrators are not only an important step towards making H2-powered aviation a reality, but also provide valuable insights for the future development of a cost-effective and reliable LH2 supply chain. 

“Identifying the requirements for the infrastructure as early as possible is crucial to the success of our joint efforts towards a more climate-friendly air transport system.”

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