Hydrogen powered subsonic aircraft

In October 2021, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) pledged net-zero carbon emissions for the aviation industry by 2050. Hydrogen-powered subsonic aircraft are a promising product to serve the short-haul flight market, and there are a few startups in this space. One is focused on powertrain development, another has IP around storage tanks, and another is working on fuel cells. Meanwhile, Airbus has pledged to fly their first zero-emissions design by 2035.

It’s worth mentioning the two extreme ends of the flight range spectrum (urban vs international) to better appreciate where hydrogen-powered aircraft fit in (regional to medium haul flights). A new class of electric air vehicle, the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL), has emerged for ultra-low range flights. This vehicle, a blend of aircraft with helicopter rotors, is ideal for the new Urban Air Mobility market. For long-haul international and transcontinental travel, the most volumetrically efficient way to store the energy remains using hydrocarbons. For those flights, Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) are needed to reach a net-zero carbon goal. Follow the links to nodes on near-term SAF production and long-term price parity with fossil fuels.