National Aviation Conference advances decarbonisation of aviation

26 Sept 2023

At the 3rd National Aviation Conference in Hamburg, the federal government, industry, trade unions and the aviation sector showed unity: Germany should take a leading role worldwide in shaping climate-neutral aviation.

The topics of flying and sustainability must be closely linked. This involves the development of new technologies and the industrial production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). The opportunities for the location are significant.

Chancellor Scholz: at the forefront with climate-friendly technologies

“The final assembly of one in six commercial aircraft worldwide takes place in Germany,” said Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the opening. “The German aviation industry is already at the forefront when it comes to climate-friendly technologies.” As examples, he cited climate-neutral fuels, electrically powered aircraft, hydrogen drives and efficient turbines for the use of climate-neutral fuels. “We can prove that producing climate-neutral fuels also works in Germany.”

Also Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection Dr. Robert Habeck emphasized the importance of the industry: “The special importance of the aviation industry in Germany is that we produce for the world market.”

“We have to solve our problems with innovations,” said Volker Wissing, Federal Minister for Digital and Transport. This requires “as much e-fuel as possible as quickly as possible in order to be able to fly in a climate-neutral manner.”

Combining aviation and environmental technology

“Germany is a leading aviation location. We are leaders in environmental technology. We have to combine the two things,” said Dr. Michael Schöllhorn, CEO Airbus Defense and Space and President of the BDLI. “The effort we need to decarbonise aviation can only be achieved together; with politics, with industry, with airlines and with society as a whole. To achieve this, the federal government must create the right framework conditions and technology incentives.”

With the signing of the joint declaration by the federal government with the aviation industry, air transport and the trade unions, central cornerstones – such as the intensified testing of hydrogen technologies or the continued development and testing of new aircraft components – were defined for climate-friendly flying.

Germany has the potential to become a pioneer in the decarbonisation of aviation. To achieve this, we have to pull all levels together: political, technological and industrial.

Capturing CO2 from the air: Airbus team finalist at the German Future Award

21 Sept 2023

A team consisting of a developer and two engineers from Airbus is one of the three finalists for the German Future Award 2023 with their development of Direct Air Capture technologies. This groundbreaking technology from space travel can be used to filter CO2 from the atmosphere.

With the award, the Federal President honors scientific excellence, coupled with scientific application, that benefits society. The Direct Air Capture (DAC) process extracts carbon dioxide (CO2 ) directly from ambient air and stores or reuses it for industrial purposes. Airbus relies on several complementary technologies to decarbonize and reduce CO2 emissions in aviation, including DAC.

ISS technology taken further

“I would like to congratulate the team: Antje Bulmann, Viktor Fetter and Tobias Horn. The trio’s achievement in producing the DAC modules is a perfect example of how technologies from the space industry can be refined for use on Earth and help to reduce CO2 emissions,” said Airbus CTO, Dr Sabine Klauke.

The Airbus team's DAC modules adapt an adsorber technology that is also used on the International Space Station ISS. Here, the CO2 must be reliably removed from the air the astronauts breathe. This also happens in the DAC devices on Earth. The CO2 is separated using an adsorptive DAC process.

For this purpose, Airbus has cooperated on the development of an amine resin that efficiently captures CO2 even at low concentrations. First, a fan draws in air, which flows over a solid amine filter that selectively binds the CO2. The processed air that is then released contains practically no CO2 . This phase continues until the resin is saturated with the greenhouse gas. The second stage involves heating the filter, regenerating it and desorbing a concentrated stream of CO2, which can either be repurposed or stored underground.

Reducing CO2 emissions through various technologies

To reduce CO2 emissions in aviation, Airbus is working on several technology strands in parallel: In addition to fleet modernization and more efficient air traffic management, these include sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and, in the long term, hydrogen and DAC.

Airbus Summit: Paving the Way for Low-Carbon Aviation

30 Nov - 1st Dec 2022

Ground-breaking technology in the making: A number of announcements at the Airbus Summit that ended on 1 December in Ottobrunn will pave the way for a low-carbon aviation in the next decade.

At the Summit, Airbus revealed that it is developing a hydrogen-powered fuel cell engine. The propulsion system is being considered as one of the potential solutions to equip its low-carbon aircraft that will enter service by 2035. Hydrogen is one of the most promising alternatives to power a low-carbon aircraft, because it emits no carbon dioxide when generated from renewable energy.

Airbus reveals hydrogen-powered zero-emission engine

Airbus will start ground and flight testing this fuel cell engine onboard its ZEROe demonstrator aircraft towards the middle of the decade. The A380 flight test aircraft for new hydrogen technologies is currently being modified at Airbus sites in Germany and in France to carry liquid hydrogen tanks. If the technology targets were achieved, fuel cell engines may be able to power a one hundred passenger aircraft with a range of approximately 1,000 nautical miles. By continuing to invest in this technology Airbus is giving itself options that will inform its decisions on the architecture of our future ZEROe aircraft, the development of which we intend to launch in the 2027-2028 timeframe.

Airbus and ArianeGroup to pioneer liquid hydrogen technology

"Preparing for the entry into service of a low-carbon aircraft in 2035 means that we need to mature all of the required technologies in parallel,” said Airbus CTO Sabine Klauke. Airbus and ArianeGroup will therefore work together to build the first liquid hydrogen refuelling facility for ZEROe aircraft. The station at Toulouse Airport will be operational in 2025. ArianeGroup is the prime contractor of Ariane launch vehicles, which have been propelled by liquid hydrogen for more than 40 years. “By partnering with ArianeGroup, we will leverage well known hydrogen expertise in the pursuit of this goal," said Sabine Klauke.

Airbus and CERN to partner for future clean aviation

Two European pioneers at the heart of disruptive technology: Airbus UpNext, a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus, and CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, are launching a project to evaluate how superconductivity can contribute to the decarbonisation of future aircraft systems. “Partnering with a leading research institute such as CERN, which brought the world some of the most important findings in fundamental physics, will help push the boundaries of research in clean aerospace as we work to make sustainable aviation a reality”, said Sandra Bour-Schaeffer, CEO Airbus UpNext.

The initiatives announced at the Airbus Summit are to ensure that the technology is ready to introduce low-carbon flight in the middle of the next decade. However, in his keynote Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury expressed concerns about the pace of investment in facilities to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and hydrogen from renewables. To ensure low-carbon flights can take off by 2035, the aircraft technology, production capacities and the infrastructure have to be developed in parallel without delay.

Berlin Aviation Summit shows the way to climate-neutral flying

21 June 2022

Big stage for aviation: At the start of #ILA22, the Who's Who from industry, aviation, finance and energy met at the Berlin Aviation Summit under the motto of the ILA: "Pioneering Aerospace". The goal: to pave the way to climate-neutral flying.

We are on the threshold of the future of aviation - green flying. Central stakeholders such as Federal Ministers Habeck and Wissing, DLR Executive Board Chairwoman Kaysser-Pyzalla, and high-ranking representatives of the European Commission and industry discussed on June 21, 2022, how the energy transition in the sky will succeed. In the process participants emphasized the need for speed in view of the ambitious national and
European climate targets.

Federal ministers actively support climate-neutral flying

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck reminded the audience that crises open up new opportunities. Protectionism is the wrong way to go, he said: "The climate crisis needs technological solutions, and these come from international cooperation." Investments in research and development, including by the public sector, play a central role: "Climate-neutral flying needs government support." 

Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing highlighted measures announced by the coalition to promote climate-neutral flying. At the same time, he warned against European plans that could distort competition or shift emissions. 

Anna Christmann, the aerospace coordinator, also emphasized the German government's commitment to decarbonizing aviation. Her focus, she said, is on developing new technologies, supported by the federal government's successful aeronautics research program. There is as little time to lose in this regard as there is in the introduction of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), she said.

Commitment to climate-neutral flying

COVID and the war in Ukraine have shown that the world needs aviation as much as defense, said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury. He reaffirmed the company's goal of bringing the low-carbon ZEROe aircraft to market by 2035. "For aviation, that's tomorrow," said Faury, who hopes Germany will take a leadership role in the transition to carbon-neutral flying.  

Airbus Defence and Space CEO and BDLI President Dr. Michael Schöllhorn sees aerospace back in its pioneering role: "Decarbonization, the low-carbon aircraft by 2035, space applications as well as FCAS and novel military applications - all these require a pioneering spirit." Like Alessandro Profumo, president of the European industry association ASD, Schöllhorn stressed that there can be no sustainability without security, and there can be no security without the appropriate capabilities in defense.

Airbus CTO Dr. Sabine Klauke emphasized that Airbus invests billions annually in the development of technologies to reduce emissions. The big goal, she said, is to make decarbonized flying possible.There is not one technology, but many that need to be brought together, such as aircraft design, engines and sustainable aviation fuels. The first hydrogen demonstrator will fly as early as 2026 - a significant milestone toward decarbonization in the coming decade. No one can do this alone, he said. All stakeholders are needed for this vision. 

The 3rd Berlin Aviation Summit was once again the definitive high-level conference at which the most important decision-makers from politics, research and industry point the way to the future of flying, which will now be brought to life at the ILA.

Airbus Talks: Protecting soldiers - also with drones

27 April 2021

The question of drone weaponisation is of key importance for the German defence architecture and is an important ethical question. The main focus is on the comprehensive protection of soldiers in action. The necessary technology is available and ready for use. Now the necessary steps must be taken to ensure the safety of the Bundeswehr during missions abroad. A high-calibre panel discussed this in Berlin.

Politics play a key role in the use of technology

Dr. Reinhard Brandl, MP for the CSU, Andreas Schwarz, MP for the SPD, and Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, discussed these topics under the moderation of Alexander Reinhardt, Head of Airbus's Berlin office. The panellists agreed that this technology holds great advantages and that embedding it in a fixed value system is the underlying basis for ethical deployment. It is now up to the German federal government to set the course for this important defence technology.

Armed drones cannot be replaced

Unmanned aerial vehicles perform a function that combat helicopters, such as the Tiger, can only perform to a certain extent. Drones complement the existing defence architecture and bring additional advantages in defence cases. They therefore have a key role to play in future defence projects such as the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). One of the most important aspects is to reduce the risk potential of the soldiers.

Safety of soldiers has the highest priority

Drones lead to a strong increase in the safety of soldiers in action. This is especially important for a parliamentary army. Unmanned aerial vehicles do not risk impairing the pilot in combat and also enable more precise flight control without time delay. In addition, there is the availability of a large amount of information that can be used more efficiently. This allows for comprehensive situational awareness and obtaining legal advice prior to deployment. This allows important decisions to be made in real time. It also leads to more precise actions with less collateral damage. In addition, the operational costs of a drone are significantly lower than a flying hour with pilots.

Only humans should take responsibility

Germany is at the forefront of ethical and moral issues surrounding unmanned weapons systems. On the one hand, automation and autonomy significantly increases the safety of soldiers in action. On the other hand, it is without a doubt that every action regarding the use of drones must be taken by a human being. This is the only way to justify an ethical deployment.

As the strongest economic power in Europe and an important pillar of NATO, Germany cannot shirk its international responsibility. In increasingly difficult missions, drones are playing an ever more important role. So far, Germany has often cooperated with key alliance partners in this regard. But as an important international player, Germany cannot and should not shy away from its responsibilities. Armed drones are a key technology for defence. Germany should close this capability gap. This was highlighted during this panel discussion.

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