Airbus has announced a series of partnerships with some of North America’s busiest airports in Texas and Canada to study the use of hydrogen and develop hydrogen infrastructure at airports. 

In the US, the aircraft manufacturer has partnered with Houston Airports and the Centre for Houston’s Future (CHF) to explore the feasibility of creating a hydrogen hub at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). 

Canada’s Montréal–Trudeau International Airport (YUL), Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and Vancouver International Airport (YVR) have also signed memorandum of understandings (MoU) with Airbus and ZeroAvia to study hydrogen infrastructure for their own operations.

The prospective hub at IAH would form part of Airbus’ ‘Hydrogen Hub at Airports’ scheme which seeks to study the infrastructure necessary to operate hydrogen aircraft and ground vehicles at airports in a stepped approach. 

Karine Guenan, Airbus’ vice president for the ZEROe Ecosystem, said: “For hydrogen to meet its full potential, the entire airport ecosystem – including airport authorities, energy suppliers and regulatory authorities – needs to come together and collaborate. 

“This joint-study will help us better understand what hydrogen infrastructure would be needed at Houston’s airport to support hydrogen and low carbon aviation in the future.” 

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Guenan also described Canada as “one of the most promising regions” for hydrogen hubs thanks to its potential for hydrogen production using renewable energy and said the three partnerships would allow Airbus’ research to “cover the country from coast to coast.” 

Tamara Vrooman, CEO of YVR, said: “We know when it comes to climate change, aviation isn’t the enemy, carbon is. Looking into the feasibility of airports as Hydrogen Hubs is an important step on the journey to net zero carbon emissions.” 

Airbus has become one of the biggest industry players to be pushing hydrogen technology with its ZEROe project developing alternative aircraft designs to run on the sustainable fuel and aiming to launch the first commercial plane by 2035. 

While hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft are still a decade away from entering service, hydrogen technology has been gaining support in the aviation industry with some ground equipment already running on the fuel. 

Last year a UK group called Hydrogen in Aviation conducted the first airside hydrogen refuelling trial in the country at Bristol Airport, supporting the development of guidance on use of the fuel at an airport.