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Hydrogen in Aviation: UK's Pioneering Alliance for Carbon-Free Flying

A groundbreaking collaboration has taken flight in the UK, uniting major players in aviation and renewable energy sectors, including EasyJet, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Ørsted, GKN Aerospace, and Bristol Airport. They have launched the Hydrogen in Aviation (HIA) alliance to accelerate the pursuit of zero-carbon aviation. HIA aims to ensure that the UK seizes the immense potential of hydrogen, not only for aviation but for the nation as a whole.

While there are various options to decarbonize aviation, including sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), synthetic fuels, and batteries, HIA believes that direct hydrogen usage deserves more attention.

Hydrogen emerges as a highly promising alternative fuel for short-haul aviation. Airbus is actively developing hydrogen-powered aircraft, with commercial service expected by 2035, and Rolls-Royce has demonstrated successful ground tests for a hydrogen-fueled jet engine in 2022. Smaller operators like ZeroAvia and Universal Hydrogen are also making rapid progress with hydrogen-powered aircraft, conducting successful flight tests.

Leveraging their considerable expertise, this consortium aims to chart a clear and feasible path toward hydrogen-powered aviation. HIA will collaborate with the government, local authorities, and both aviation and hydrogen sectors to position the UK as a global leader in this critical hydrogen technology application. This will involve outlining plans to expand infrastructure and the necessary policy, regulatory, and safety frameworks for large-scale commercial hydrogen aviation.

The alliance underscores the government's need to focus on three key areas: enabling the infrastructure required for the UK to become a global leader, ensuring that aviation regulations are hydrogen-ready, and transforming funding for hydrogen aviation R&D into a ten-year program. This strategic approach is essential for the UK to realize economic benefits and meet decarbonization goals.

HIA's vision holds the promise of a greener future for aviation, where hydrogen will play a pivotal role in reducing carbon emissions and advancing sustainable flight.

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