The Future of Air Travel

The Future of Air Travel

Dave Best, the Head of Strategy, Business Development and Commercial Sales for Airbus UK enthusiastically explained the challenges and possible solutions for developing air travel in the future to members of Taunton’s two Rotary Clubs at their recent joint meeting.

Dave introduced Airbus as a multi-national company with 65,000 employees in the UK including 3,000+ in Filton, Bristol.

The aviation industry has expressed its commitment to achieving "net-zero" carbon emissions by 2050. But this ambitious target cannot be achieved using existing aircraft technologies. Alternative propulsion systems and low-carbon energy sources, as well as innovative solutions to existing challenges, will help us to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in future aircraft.

The use of hybrid fuels, including 50/50 renewables and kerosene are being developed. Hydrogen is seen as important for the future of aviation fuel with the first aircraft ready to be in service by 2035.

Three styles of aircraft are in development; smaller turbo-props, with hydrogen and electric propulsion; blended-wing concepts and finally turbofans which burn hydrogen.

Dave stated there is no ‘Golden Bullet’ solution as to which planes will be used. Much depends on the active research into the effect of the different engines on the atmosphere.

The other issues to consider are developing Hydrogen hubs at airports around the world and decisions to develop these needs to happen in the next few years if net-zero is to be achieved by 2050.

He also highlighted the U.Ks. lack of training and development of engineers in the area of new fuel technologies and reliance on those trained in other countries. At present Airbus is encouraging the development of a South West England Skills programme to provide engineers for the future as Filton is a major focus for Airbus.

Photo below shows Harry McFaul (President of Taunton Rotary), Dave Best from Airbus and Martin Lock (President of Taunton Vale Rotary).