Easyjet has announced a new partnership with GKN Aerospace, aimed at accelerating the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell technology.

The carrier said that the agreement would include “exploring the options for flight demonstration”, with Easyjet providing “insights into operational requirements and economics”.

The airline will support the development of GKN Aerospace’s Hydrogen Combustion (H2JET) and Hydrogen Fuel Cell (H2GEAR) technology, the latter of which is described as “a ground-breaking UK collaboration programme aiming to develop a liquid hydrogen propulsion system for sub-regional aircraft that could be scaled up to larger aircraft”.

The programme has £27 million in funding from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), which is being matched by GKN and its industrial partners.

Meanwhile HSJET is described as “a Swedish collaborative two-year programme led by GKN Aerospace to push development of key subsystems for gas turbine-based hydrogen propulsion of medium range civil aircraft”.

It’s the latest in a raft of initiatives around zero-emission flying announced by Easyjet – earlier this year the carrier formed a partnership with Cranfield Aerospace Solutions to support the development of its hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system for commercial aircraft.

Easyjet partners with Cranfield Aerospace Solutions on development of zero-emission aircraft

And in November 2020 Easyjet joined Race to Zero, a UN-backed campaign to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Max Brown, VP Technology, GKN Aerospace, said that “hydrogen-powered aircraft offer a clear route to keep the world connected, with dramatically cleaner skies”, while David Morgan, director of flight operations, Easyjet, said:

“At Easyjet, we are committed to working towards a future with zero carbon emission flying. We know that technology is a key driver to achieve our decarbonisation targets, with hydrogen propulsion a frontrunner for short-haul airlines like Easyjet.

“Cross-industry partnerships are key to developing these promising new technologies and we look forward to collaborating with GKN Aerospace to support bringing this technology to maturity as early as possible.”

Earlier this year a study by the International Council of Clean Transportation confirmed the viability of hydrogen-powered aircraft for short-haul aviation. At the time Easyjet’s CEO Johan Lundgren commented:

“We welcome the findings of this important report by the ICCT, which shows that carbon-free flight is possible over shorter ranges, something we have long argued.

“Hydrogen is an opportunity for British and European aviation, so we continue to urge governments to quickly put incentives in place to support it, develop regional hydrogen infrastructure, and level the playing field with sustainable aviation fuels.”

ICCT study confirms viability of hydrogen-powered aircraft for short-haul aviation

easyjet.com, gknaerospace.com