Germany’s Hamburg Air is partnering with Lufthansa Technik, an aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul service provider for commercial aircraft converting to VIP and special mission aircraft. The partnership is meant to further develop sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and boost hydrogen research and development across the German aviation industry.
1. Moving laboratory
Ove the next two years, Lufthansa Technik said it will test different processes to observe the handling of hydrogen technology. Alongside Hamburg Airport, the company will also work with the German Aerospace Center and the Center for Applied Aeronautical Research to facilitate the testing. The city of Hamburg provided the funds for this initiative and the tests will be conducted in a unique laboratory — a redesigned Airbus A320 turned into a research lab.
“For this purpose, an aircraft of the Airbus A320 family will be converted into a stationary laboratory at Lufthansa Technik’s base in Hamburg. Within this lab, the partners want to test the effects of Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) on maintenance and ground processes,” stated the company.
The aircraft is unable to fly, but it’s still being transported on the ground. “While this Airbus A320 will no longer be taking to the skies, it is capable of being towed to locations at the Lufthansa Technik base and Hamburg Airport to enable real-world research of ground-based processes,” the company explained.
The “aircraft-lab” will help prepare Lufthansa Technik’s partners to handle and provide maintenance to aircraft that use hydrogen fuel, a reality expected to kick in somewhere in 2035. Lufthansa Technik also expects to address solutions to the length it would take to refuel aircraft with liquid hydrogen based on current technology.
2. Betting on sustainability
Since 2016, Hamburg Airport has promoted sustainability from the ground by powering its diesel vehicles with Neste MY Renewable Diesel, a fuel made from 100% renewable raw materials. The Airport has installed solar panels on the roofs of various buildings and car park structures to generate clean electricity. Additionally, it has forged agreements with local energy suppliers to ensure a portion of its energy comes from renewable sources.
The German airport continues investing in sustainability, this time around, it joined forces as part of a consortium with partners and is applying for EU funding within the interreg program, according to a press statement. The project aims to better connect rural Baltic Sea regions to existing aviation hubs and to promote sustainable flying.
“Hydrogen offers great potential for climate-neutral flights on short-haul routes. From our partners’ point of view, regional air transport with smaller, future hydrogen-powered aircraft is particularly suitable. Gaseous hydrogen is the propulsion of the future especially for smaller regional air transport aircrafts, such as turboprops with 20-30 seats,” said Jan Eike Hardegen, Head of Environment at Hamburg Airport, hoping to see the project receiving funding.
In the project does succeed in getting EU funding, it could start in autumn 2023 and would last three years.