German Partners Launch Hamburg Project to Test H2-powered Aviation

Highlights :

  • Lufthansa Technik will work with the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Center for Applied Aeronautical Research (ZAL) and Hamburg Airport over the next two years to design and test extensive maintenance and ground processes in handling hydrogen technology.
  • For this purpose, an aircraft of the Airbus A320 family will be converted into a stationary laboratory at Lufthansa Technik’s base in Hamburg.

A collaboration between aircraft services provider Lufthansa Technik, the City of Hamburg and other German partners plans to modify an Airbus A320 to test maintenance and ground-handling procedures for liquid hydrogen-powered aircrafts. Operation of the demonstrator is planned to begin in 2022 in Hamburg, the world’s third-largest aviation center, which is also funding the project.

Liquid hydrogen (LH2) is increasingly being more concretely envisaged in the development departments of large aircraft manufacturers as a sustainably producible fuel for future generations of commercial aircraft.

In order to investigate the effects of the use of LH2 on maintenance and ground processes at an early stage, Lufthansa Technik, DLR (German Aerospace Center), ZAL (Center of Applied Aeronautical Research) and Hamburg Airport are now pooling their resources.

“Hamburg is not just one of the three largest aviation clusters in the world, last year the city also developed the clear vision of becoming a major hydrogen metropolis,” explained Michael Westhagemann, Senator for Economics and Innovation of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.

“The port, the energy sector, industry and the entire mobility sector are involved and are preparing for this groundbreaking technology. With this project, we are now also making an essential contribution to the transformation of aviation into a climate-neutral mobility solution of the future,” he added.

In the first phase of the project, by the end of 2021, the partners aim to identify the most urgent fields of development for closer scientific examination and, on this basis, to elaborate the concept for subsequent practical testing. The practical implementation of the concept will start at the beginning of 2022 and will involve the modification of a decommissioned Airbus A320 aircraft. It will be equipped with an liquid hydrogen infrastructure to be used as a fully functional field laboratory at Lufthansa Technik’s base in Hamburg.

In parallel, a virtual environment is being created at DLR that will be used to achieve digital and highly accurate mapping of the defined development fields. The new development platform is to provide inspiration for the design process of the next generation of aircraft by means of parameterized and highly accurate virtual models.

Against this background, Lufthansa Technik will primarily contribute its great operational expertise in the maintenance and modification of commercial aircraft, and can also incorporate the customer perspective through its close contact with airlines around the world. DLR will add its long-standing and cross-sector experience with hydrogen, and focus on the development of the virtual environment.

ZAL will also participate with its extensive know-how in the field of fuel cell technology and its digital process mapping. As an associated project partner, Hamburg Airport will primarily contribute its experience from the operator’s perspective, for example in defining requirements for the ground handling process of future LH2-powered aircraft.

“There is no alternative to the transformation of our industry towards climate-neutral flying. With this project, we want to tackle this enormous technological challenge at an early stage – for the entire MRO industry as well as for us. In this way, we are actively securing the future, because we are building up know-how today for the maintenance and ground processes of the day after tomorrow,” explained Dr. Johannes Bussmann, Chief Executive Officer of Lufthansa Technik AG.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.

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