The British government is funding a new concept aircraft fueled by liquid hydrogen. The aircraft will contribute to reaching zero carbon emissions flight using its innovative energy source.
The project, known as FlyZero, is being headed by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and was recently revealed on Monday in advance of the fourth Jet Zero Council, an industry and government meeting focusing on bringing a zero-emission transatlantic flight to fruition.
ATI has created a midsize aircraft capable of taking 279 passengers halfway across the planet without making a single stop. The aircraft can go to any destination in the world with only one stop in between.
The plane’s energy efficiency means that it could operate some of the most in-demand non-stop flights, like London to San Francisco.
“The Aerospace Technology Institute’s pioneering research highlights the potential for hydrogen in realising zero-carbon global connectivity,” said Emma Gilthorpe, Jet Zero Council’s CEO.
“This ground-breaking green technology looks set to play a critical role in decarbonising flight and through the work of the Jet Zero Council, the UK aviation sector is exploring all avenues to ensure we protect the benefits of flying for future generations, while cutting the carbon cost.”
Chris Gear, FlyZero’s lead project director, expanded on the flight’s connection to fighting climate change, saying that: “At a time of global focus on tackling climate change our midsize concept sets out a truly revolutionary vision for the future of global air travel keeping families, businesses and nations connected without the carbon footprint.
“This new dawn for aviation brings with it real opportunities for the UK aerospace sector to secure market share, highly skilled jobs and inward investment while helping to meet the UK’s commitments to fight climate change.”
COP26 and the race to zero emissions
The issue of carbon emissions has been a central focus at COP26, the world’s most recent international summit on climate change. President Joe Biden has set the lofty but necessary goal to reach zero emissions by mid-21st century. The pressure to engage with the level of carbon in our planet’s atmosphere is perhaps the most intense it has ever been as greenhouse gas levels reach historic highs.
The United Nation’s weather agency, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said in its annual report last week that greenhouse gas levels in the planet’s atmosphere were at a record high in 2020.
The WMO’s report showed that carbon dioxide levels peaked at 413.2 parts per million in 2020, building at a much higher pace than the yearly average for the past decade, despite a small lull during the beginning of the pandemic’s lockdowns.
Concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – the gases that contribute the most significantly to global warming while also causing catastrophic weather events – were all far above amounts found in the pre-industrial era before 1750, when humans “started disrupting Earth’s natural equilibrium,” according to the agency.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas cautioned that the pace at which heat-trapping gases are increasing would lead to elevations in temperature “far in excess” of 1.5C (2.7F) – which is the standard decided on in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.