FlyZero concept promises carbon-free flights

2 min read

A concept aircraft unveiled by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) could provide the blueprint for long-haul passenger flights using liquid hydrogen as fuel.

FlyZero
FlyZero midsize aircraft concept at airport (Image: ATI)

According to ATI, up to 279 passengers could fly between London and San Francisco, USA direct or Auckland, New Zealand with one stop with the same speed and comfort as current aircraft.

Developed by a team collaborating on the FlyZero project, the concept shows the potential of green liquid hydrogen for air travel as it is a lightweight fuel with three times the energy of kerosene and sixty times the energy of batteries per kilogramme. Furthermore, no CO2 is produced when hydrogen is burned.

MORE FROM AEROSPACE

In a statement, FlyZero project director Chris Gear said: “At a time of global focus on tackling climate change our midsize concept sets out a truly revolutionary vision for the future of global air travel keeping families, businesses and nations connected without the carbon footprint.

“This new dawn for aviation brings with it real opportunities for the UK aerospace sector to secure market share, highly skilled jobs and inward investment while helping to meet the UK’s commitments to fight climate change.”

Through the development of concept aircraft FlyZero has identified the on-board technologies which, along with the infrastructure and ground equipment for refuelling, require rapid development to deliver zero-carbon emission flight. These advanced technologies include wings without fuel tanks (dry wings), hydrogen tanks, cryogenic fuel systems, fuel cells and electrical power systems and hydrogen gas turbines.

In early 2022, detailed findings from the FlyZero project will be published including three final aircraft concepts (regional, narrowbody and midsize), technology roadmaps, market and economic reports and a sustainability assessment.

“These designs could define the future of aerospace and aviation,” said Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. “By working with industry, we are showing that truly carbon free flight could be possible, with hydrogen a front runner to replace conventional fossil fuels.

“Fuelling planes sustainably will enable the public to travel as we do now, but in a way that doesn’t damage the planet. It will not only help us to end our contribution to climate change, but also represents a huge industrial opportunity for the UK.”

ATI said that with a range of 5250NM, destinations including San Francisco (4664NM), Delhi (3642NM), Beijing (4414NM), Vancouver (4105NM), Mexico City (4815NM) and Rio De Janeiro (4983NM) are within reach from London. Destinations including Auckland (9911NM), Sydney (9188NM) and Honolulu (6289NM) are in reach with just one stop.

Powered by liquid hydrogen, the fuel is stored in cryogenic fuel tanks at around minus 250oC degrees Celsius in the aft fuselage and two smaller ‘cheek’ tanks along the forward fuselage, which will keep the aircraft balanced as the fuel burns off and eliminate the need for any additional aerodynamic structures.

The aircraft’s 54-metre wingspan will carry two turbofan engines powered by hydrogen combustion.