hydrogen powered aircraft

hydrogen powered aircraft

The first-ever larger hydrogen powered aircraft for passengers (40-80 seats) is scheduled to fly between the Netherlands and London in 2028. A Dutch partnership is building a hydrogen system for aircraft, all green, from fuel to propulsion. The system is scalable to larger aircraft. And is entirely of Dutch origin. This makes the Netherlands the world’s leading supplier of hydrogen powered aircraft.

No more CO2 or nitrogen from the exhaust, fully zero CO2 emission air travel. And this first flight will not be a one-day wonder: the intention is to have several commercial flights worldwide from 2028 onwards. Hydrogen Aircraft Powertrain and Storage System (HAPSS) is an entirely Dutch public-private partnership, set up by Unified International and InnovationQuarter with 17 companies, including Fokker, TU Delft, the Dutch government and the Royal Dutch Aerospace Center. From the National Growth Fund, €383 million was allocated to the Aviation in Transition program, of which the HAPSS project is the largest component. The system will be ready at lab scale by 2025.

Contribution to the green economy

An international survey shows that more than 90% of consumers are willing to pay more for a flight, provided it is completely green. The HAPSS program achieves zero emission air travel and helps the Netherlands to become the leading supplier of such systems worldwide. The system will initially be built into an existing turboprop aircraft with 40-80 seats and can then be used in new zero-emission aircraft with even more passengers.

1200 jobs and a global market of €16 billion

“This is unique worldwide according to experts. And the best part: above this project flies a completely Dutch flag, so this project contributes directly and one-to-one to the Dutch GDP,” says Michel van Ierland of Unified International. As of 2028, HAPSS will provide 1,200 jobs. “We are providing structural employment in the green economy with this program. In addition, we are opening up a €16 billion world market for the Netherlands. This is very interesting for Scandinavia and New Zealand, for example, where for shorter distances battery-electric technology is currently still being targeted.”

How does a hydrogen powered aircraft work?

The entire chain in an hydrogen powered aircraft, from fuel to propulsion, will be fully and completely greened. Where fuel is currently stored in the wings, in the new aircraft the storage will be replaced by hydrogen capsules in the tail of the aircraft. The hydrogen is then transported to the engine and converted into electricity. In the engine, the electricity is converted into motion and sent to the propellers.

The Netherlands finally takes the lead in aviation again

The Netherlands has 100 years of experience in aviation. But with the demise of Fokker as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) in 1996, the demand for Dutch-made aircraft components came to an end. In the meantime, the ecosystem has only been used for aircraft platforms such as Airbus, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin (F35). This is now going to change. With the HAPSS project, the Netherlands is positioning itself worldwide as a supplier for airlines that need to start flying sustainably. Potential customers include Airbus, Boeing, Embraer and De Havilland.

Other countries are experimenting, but not competing

In the US and the United Kingdom, experiments with hydrogen-powered flying are also taking place, but mainly by parties that have their origins in commercial, sustainable energy supply. “Those have a different focus. They are potential customers and partners for us, rather than competitors.” Parties like Airbus/Leonardo, Embraer are also working on hydrogen technology for their future aircraft. However, their horizon is a bit further away and is on the period after 2035.