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AIR - Airbus SE News Story

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Airbus exploring hybrid-electric aircraft technology

Fri 26th February, 2021 9:46am
By Tim Hepher
    PARIS, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Airbus  AIR.PA  is working on
hybrid-electric propulsion among the options for reducing
jetliner emissions, the European planemaker said on Friday.
    It disclosed the initiative in a document projecting more
than a million tonnes of equivalent CO2 emissions over the life
of each current-generation jet, as it became the first
planemaker to report so-called "Scope 3" emissions.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2KW0LC
    Until now, Airbus has mainly publicised hydrogen as the
preferred energy source for future airplanes, pledging to
introduce the first hydrogen-powered commercial plane in 2035.
    But on Friday it said it was also working on hybrid-electric
alternatives.
    "The company's work in electric flight has laid the
groundwork for our future concept of zero-emission commercial
aircraft," Airbus said, adding it is "now exploring a variety of
hybrid-electric and hydrogen technology options".
    Although experts say hydrogen could power relatively small
planes to start with and galvanise green investments, it poses
challenges because of its volume and the need for a new
infrastructure. Rival Boeing  BA.N  has downplayed the idea. 
    Several industry sources say the leading option for a future
replacement to the best-selling 150-seat A320, likely to enter
service in the 2030s, involves hybrid-electric power, with
hydrogen only likely to power such large airplanes later.
    Engine makers are actively exploring open-rotor engines with
visible blades using a mixture of traditional turbines and
electric propulsion for future replacements to the Airbus A320
and Boeing 737, industry officials told Reuters.
    Asked to comment on its hybrid-electric plans, an Airbus
spokesman said: "Only a combination of technologies, including
hydrogen, will help us aim for zero emission."
    Chief Executive Guillaume Faury has urged the industry to
push itself harder on research and redefining operations.   
    In 2019, Airbus inaugurated a facility for testing
alternative propulsion systems and fuels in Europe.
    It is also using a Daher-Socata TBM 900 turboprop to analyse
distributed propulsion with the standard engine supplemented by
by wing-mounted, electricity-driven motors, the Airbus spokesman
said.

 (Reporting by Tim Hepher. Editing by Jane Merriman)
 ((laurence.frost@thomsonreuters.com; +33 1 4949 5683
@Laurence_Frost DMs on; Reuters Messaging: N/A))
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