How large zero-carbon airliners could be in commercial service by 2030

This article is an overview of a recent systems engineering study which showed how the first 350-seat zero-carbon airliners with a range of up to 6,000km could be in service by 2030, now that green hydrogen is forecast to cost less than $2 per kg by this date.

If most airlines stop buying conventional large airliners and order big hydrogen airliners instead, the amount of CO2 produced by aviation in the period 2030 to 2050 could be much less than currently forecast, and less than taking any other approach.

The main reason the airlines will respond enthusiastically to this plan is because liquid hydrogen is expected to cost much less than FAS or kerosene by 2035, and will continue to fall in price. This will make the business case simple, with the added bonus of an increase in traffic due to the removal of ‘flight shame’.

The new airliners can be developed swiftly and relatively cheaply because they can be based closely on two existing offerings, the Airbus A350-1000 and the Boeing 777-8. It is even possible that the actual aircraft Airbus will modify to form the first prototype has already flown. If so, it will be almost identical in appearance to the A350F freighter version pictured.

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