Airbus sets sights on Scandinavian H2 flight network

More than 50 airports across Norway and Sweden are set to participate in a pilot project to test the feasibility of hydrogen-powered regional flight in Scandinavia.

Airbus' ZEROe turboprop concept
Airbus' ZEROe turboprop concept - Airbus

The project follows a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Airbus with Norway and Sweden’s respective airport operators Avinor and Swedavia, as well as Scandinavian flag-carrier airline SAS and Swedish energy giant Vattenfall. According to the partners, the aim of the collaboration is to develop the hydrogen aviation ecosystem across both countries, gaining knowledge around H2 aircraft concepts as well as operational, infrastructure and refuelling needs.

“Hydrogen stands out as a key enabler as we pioneer a sustainable aviation future,” Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said in a statement. “Norway and Sweden are among the most demanding regions for aviation and have great potential for hydrogen production from renewable energy sources. I am very pleased to enter into this cooperation with partners fully engaged to take significant steps towards decarbonising aerospace. It fits perfectly with our strategy of deploying hydrogen aviation ecosystems in the most suitable parts of the world.”

In 2020, Airbus announced it was targeting the introduction of commercial hydrogen aircraft by 2035. Its ZEROe project features three design concepts: an H2 turbofan aimed at the 2,000 nautical miles, the 120–200 passenger segment; a smaller turboprop concept catering for flights of around 1,000 nautical miles; and a futuristic blended-wing aircraft that points to a hydrogen-powered future where airframe design could look radically different.

The new agreement between Airbus and the Scandinavian partners is said to cover more than 50 airports across Norway and Sweden, over half of which are already served by SAS, according to its website. Alongside this extensive regional network, Norway and Sweden both enjoy an advanced industrial base and abundant clean energy resources, both of which will be key in developing a hydrogen economy that can serve the aviation sector.

“As the world takes positive steps towards a more sustainable future, SAS’ commitment is to ensure that also coming generations can enjoy the benefits of seamless global connectivity,” said Anko van der Werff, SAS president and CEO.

“By partnering with some of the strongest and most innovative players in the industry, we are assuming our responsibility to drive the transition towards achieving net-zero emissions. A journey that matters not just for SAS, but for the entire aviation industry.”