The CEO of European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has said that the company may need state support to develop its next single-aisle aircraft to replace the A320 family and its concept range of hydrogen-powered aircraft.
Guillaume Faury said that the company was committed to an existing finance model with governments supplying loans towards the building of new aircraft that were only repayable when the model reached specific order levels.
In an interview with the London Financial Times, Faury said: “We need to find acceptable mechanisms to incentivise private sector investment and share risks with governments in order to support the design and development of new aircraft programmes that will deliver the decarbonisation of aerospace.”
While the manufacturer, which is projecting an adjusted EBIT of €6bn ($6.47bn) for 2023, is already receiving some research funding from European governments towards exploring a replacement to its A320 narrow-body family, a new deal in the form hinted at by Faury could push the limits of an existing agreement between the EU and US.
That agreement ended an almost two-decade dispute over state support for Airbus and US-based Boeing with both sides of the Atlantic signing up to a deal promising not to give specific support to their local supplier that could harm the other transatlantic manufacturer.
However, despite Faury’s comments on the possibility of asking for funding to support its development of new aircraft, the company has already been researching the creation of a range of hydrogen-powered aircraft under the ZEROe range with an ambition of bringing the world’s first commercial hydrogen aircraft to market by 2035.
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Airbus is researching four concepts for the aircraft with flight ranges between 1,000nm and over 2,000nm using either hybrid hydrogen-electric fuel cells or direct hydrogen combustion being developed through A380 MSN1 test aircraft, other demonstrators, and development centres in Europe.
The company has also been setting up a Hydrogen Hub at Airports network which recently welcomed Hamburg Airport as the first in Germany to join.