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UK H2 alliance established to accelerate zero-carbon aviation

A group of leading companies in the UK aviation and renewable energy sectors including easyJet, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Ørsted, GKN Aerospace and Bristol Airport, established the H2 in Aviation (HIA) alliance to accelerate the delivery of zero-carbon aviation. HIA will work to ensure the UK capitalizes on the huge opportunity H2 presents to the aviation industry and country as a whole.

While there are various options for decarbonizing the aviation sector, including sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), synthetic fuels or batteries, HIA believes that more attention should be paid to the potential of the direct use of H2.

H2 is a very promising alternative-fuel option for short-haul aviation. Airbus is developing new H2-powered aircraft with the aim of entering commercial service from 2035 and Rolls-Royce has already proven that H2 could power a jet engine following successful ground tests in 2022. Furthermore, many smaller operators are making rapid progress on H2-powered aircraft, notably ZeroAvia and Universal H2 who have already carried out flight tests.

The group will be drawing on their considerable expertise to propose a clear and deliverable pathway to achieving H2-powered aviation. HIA will work constructively with government, local authorities and the aviation and H2 sectors to enable the UK to fulfil its potential as a global leader in this critical application of H2 technology. This will include setting out the pathway for scaling up the infrastructure and the policy, regulatory and safety frameworks needed so that large-scale commercial aviation can become a reality.

The alliance will set out that government must be focused on three key areas: supporting the delivery of the infrastructure needed for the UK to be a global leader, ensuring the aviation regulatory regime is H2 ready and transforming the funding for H2 aviation R&D support into a 10-yr program if the UK is to see the economic benefits and meet decarbonization targets.

“There is no doubt that the UK has the potential to become a world leader in H2 aviation, which could bring with it a £34-B/yr boost to the country’s economy by 2050, but in order to capture this opportunity, rapid change is needed and the time to act is now,” said Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet and first Chair of HIA.

“We must work together to deliver the radical solutions required for a hard to abate industry like aviation so we can protect and maximize the benefits that it brings to the UK economy and society and that we know British consumers want to be preserved. HIA looks forward to working with the UK Government to ensure the right funding, regulatory and policy changes are implemented to accelerate the delivery of zero-carbon aviation.”

“As Airbus continues to mature the aircraft technologies needed to deliver H2-powered flight, a united industry voice is needed to secure a robust ecosystem of renewably-sourced H2. Joining our peers from across the UK aviation landscape in a targeted approach to policy and investment action brings us closer to a decarbonized future of flying,” said Sabine Klauke, Chief Technology Officer at Airbus.

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