Airbus signs hydrogen partnership with Dutch student team AeroDelft


Airbus has partnered with Dutch student research team AeroDelft to assist with its investigation into hydrogen-powered air travel.

The French OEM will collaborate with AeroDelft on Project Phoenix, a scholarly investigation into aviation powered by the universe’s most abundant element.

Rob Postma, CEO of Airbus Netherlands: “We are determined to make climate neutral aviation a reality and believe hydrogen is a very promising way to do so. We are thrilled to see that AeroDelft and a whole new generation of aerospace students share the same ambition.”

More than 50 college students make up AeroDelft, which is based in Delft, the Netherlands. The team’s goal is to demonstrate liquid hydrogen as an aviation fuel substitute. Project Phoenix will see the team build two aircraft.

The Phoenix Prototype, an autonomous drone, expected to launch in 2023, will be the largest unmanned aircraft to fly electrically on liquid hydrogen, said AeroDelft. 

The second aircraft, Phoenix Full Scale, will be manned. The two aircraft’s first flights are planned for 2024 and 2025, respectively.

“What AeroDelft has achieved so far is quite impressive and we need to join forces with everyone out there willing to put their brain and energy into the biggest challenge our aviation industry is facing – but also the most exciting one: zero-emission flight,” said Postma.

With its ZEROe programme, Airbus is already a a pioneer in hydrogen aviation. It intends to start working together with AeroDelft in “important” areas of multiple subsystems in the upcoming months.

Elsewhere, last month Airbus signed an MoU with Ecocopter to launch UAM services across Latin America. Air mobility operations will be explored, notably in Ecuador, Chile and Peru. 

Marcelo Rajchman, Ecocopter’s Corporate CEO, said: “With already 20 years of experience operating helicopters and 5 years operating drones, this partnership is a natural step for us. We seek to be a relevant player in the UAM ecosystem and the projects we will develop together with Airbus will bring us closer to this goal.”

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