A UK Government supported hydrogen-fuelled concept aircraft has been unveiled by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) ahead of the fourth meeting of the Jet Zero Council, chaired by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
If successful, the new aircraft could enable passengers to fly to the other side of the world with no carbon emissions and with only one stop for refuelling.
The FlyZero project, led by the ATI and funded by the Government, developed a concept for a midsize aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen which is capable of flying 279 passengers halfway around the world without a stop, or to anywhere in the world with just one stop to refuel.
This means that a zero carbon, non-stop flight could be operated between London and San Francisco, or passengers could fly around the world from London to Auckland, New Zealand with just one stop, at the same speed and comfort as today’s aircraft.
The project investigates the potential of liquid hydrogen-powered aircraft as the UK drives for a cleaner and greener air travel future and builds on progress already achieved by the Jet Zero Council, a partnership between industry and government with the aim of delivering zero emission transatlantic flight within a generation.
“As we build back greener, it’s crucial that we place sustainability at the heart of the aviation industry’s recovery from Covid-19” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “This pioneering design for a liquid hydrogen-powered aircraft, led by a British organisation, brings us one step closer to a future where people can continue to travel and connect, but without the carbon footprint. I will continue to work closely with the Jet Zero Council to support the UK’s world-leading research in this sector, which will create green jobs, help us meet our ambitious net zero targets and lead the global transition to net zero aviation.”
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng added that the designs could define the future of aerospace and aviation.
“By working with industry, we are showing that truly carbon free flight could be possible, with hydrogen a front runner to replace conventional fossil fuels” said Mr Kwarteng. “Fuelling planes sustainably will enable the public to travel as we do now, but in a way that doesn’t damage the planet. It will not only help us to end our contribution to climate change, but also represents a huge industrial opportunity for the UK.”
Another technology with the potential to decarbonise flying is sustainable aviation fuel, a low-carbon fuel made from waste materials. Earlier this year, the UK Government set out its ambition to become a world-leader in the production of sustainable aviation fuel, launching the £15 million Green Fuel, Green Skies competition to support the early development of trailblazing UK facilities working to turn everyday waste into jet fuel. The shortlisted winners, eight industry-led projects that will receive a share of the £15 million in funding, have now had their final funding agreements confirmed by the Department for Transport.
The announcement comes shortly after the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, which saw ambitious new international pledges to decarbonise transport, including the agreement by 24 countries – representing around half of global aviation emissions – to work together to achieve a new aviation decarbonisation goal.