Sailplane and Sky

Airbus wants to find out what effects hydrogen condensation trails have on the climate. To this end, it is now letting an aircraft with a hydrogen engine take off for the first time - but not as a propulsion system. Schempp-Hirth is supporting the project with the Arcus J.

Hydrogen could be the engine of the future in commercial aviation. Could! Because so far it has not been clarified what influence condensation trails caused by hydrogen have on our climate. Airbus has now launched the Blue Condor project to research these propulsion systems. In this project, the subsidiary Airbus Up Next conducts one-hour test flights with a hydrogen combustion engine in an Arcus J, while another aircraft behind it measures the emissions.

The hydrogen engine is a very simple version that does not power the aircraft. The glider is towed during take-off. Another glider will fly with a conventional kerosene-powered internal combustion engine to generate comparative data. Gliders were chosen because they do not produce other emissions that could skew the data collected.

The tests will take place at the end of 2022 in the US state of North Dakota in cooperation with the University of North Dakota. The German Aerospace Center DLR will collect and analyse the data, which will be recorded with measuring devices in the tracking aircraft. The results should be available next spring.