It looks like a spaceship, runs on fuel that up until a few years ago experts were calling “crazy,” and has barely left the drawing board, but in the eyes of one of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers, it’s undoubtedly the future.
Not even the distant future. Airbus hopes we’ll be soaring into the skies on one of its radical new designs in just 15 years, leaving the days of jet engine pollution and flight-shaming far behind us.
The blended wing aircraft is one of a trinity of eco-friendly hydrogen-fueled models unveiled recently by Airbus as part of its ambitions to spearhead the decarbonization of the aviation industry.
It’s a bold plan, and one that just a few short months ago might have seemed fanciful as demand for fossil fuel-powered air travel continued to rise, apparently immune to growing environmental concerns.
But the arrival of Covid-19 and its impact on aviation could’ve inadvertently cleared a flight path of opportunity for efforts to rethink the technology of getting the world up into the air.
Airbus has baptized its new program ZEROe. The designs revealed aren’t prototypes but a starting point to explore the tech needed in order to start building the first climate-neutral commercial planes.
“How can you possibly emerge from the pandemic, with climate neutrality as a core long-term competitiveness factor?” Airbus’s chief technology officer, Grazia Vittadini, asked rhetorically, during a briefing about the new plans.
“It would be impossible not to. Even well before the crisis, it has become an acknowledged and shared view that protecting climate and protecting our environment are key indispensable factors upon which we have to build the