EasyJet it is working with an aerospace design and research specialist to support the development of its hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system for commercial aircraft.
The new partnership with Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) is part of the budget airline’s ambition to de-carbonise its operations.
CAeS is currently developing its hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system for an existing nine-seat Britten-Norman Islander aircraft, which is planned to be flying by 2023.
David Morgan, easyJet’s flight operations director, said: “Technology is a key driver to achieve our decarbonisation targets, with hydrogen propulsion a frontrunner for short-haul airlines like easyJet.
“We are dedicated to working with industry leading partners to support the development of these promising new technologies and we look forward collaborating with Cranfield Aerospace Solutions to support bringing this technology to maturity as early as possible.”
Paul Hutton, chief executive at CAeS, added: “CAeS is committed to ensuring the widespread adoption of zero-emissions aircraft and for this to succeed, the solutions must be commercially viable.
“EasyJet…is ideally placed to help shape our development with the end user in mind.”
The airline is also working with other industry partners on zero-emission technologies such as Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Wright Electric.
It said it is “optimistic” that it could begin flying customers on planes powered by hydrogen-combustion, hydrogen-electric or a hybrid of both by the mid to late-2030s.
Speaking at Travel Weekly’s Sustainability Summit in November, easyJet’s sustainability director Jane Ashton said hydrogen and electric powered aircraft were both feasible within decades.
“From a short-haul perspective, we have quite a degree of confidence that we will be able to start integrating hydrogen-powered aircraft from the mid to late 2030s onwards,” Ashton told delegates.