Thought Leadership Mar 6, 2023

What Will it Take to Support Zero-Carbon Emission Flights?

Chris Pickard explores how airports can prepare now for wider decarbonization initiatives in the latest issue of Infrastructure Intelligence magazine.

In the latest issue of Infrastructure Intelligence magazine, Jacobs Transportation Sustainability Specialist Chris Pickard looks at how airports can prepare now if they are to be ready to fuel hydrogen-powered aircraft and become catalysts to support wider decarbonization.

To achieve rapid decarbonization of aviation and net zero by 2050, multiple approaches will be needed. Sustainable aviation fuel, more efficient engine technology, operational processes improvement and hydrogen all have a potential role to play. Of these, the infrastructure required for hydrogen aircraft is perhaps the biggest challenge, from the need to generate and supply vast quantities of green hydrogen, to the ability of airports worldwide to provide standardized equipment and processes needed to safely operate these aircraft.

Research into the use of hydrogen continues to gain pace, with projects such as the U.K. Aerospace Technology Institute’s (ATI) FlyZero program demonstrating its feasibility. As such, commercial aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen are anticipated to be in operation by the mid-2030s, with smaller gaseous hydrogen fuel cell aircraft potentially in operation within this decade. Recognizing the scale of the infrastructure challenge, FlyZero – working with Jacobs – investigated the feasibility of providing the required infrastructure at airports. The project identified three major pathways and the associated infrastructure for hydrogen supply and operation at an airport, depending on the airport’s size, location and demand for fuel.

Read Chris’s full article on page 12 of Infrastructure Intelligence for more on these pathways and why early planning and implementation of compatible infrastructure offers airports sustainability and resilience, positioning them for the future.

Click here to access Jacobs’ full report.

About the author

Chris Pickard

Chris Pickard has over 30 years of experience in airport and infrastructure planning. He's also passionate about sustainability and the need for aviation to decarbonize. Chris holds master’s degrees in sustainability and airport planning, and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. His experience throughout the years has included roles as both an airport operator and as a consultant. At Jacobs, Chris is currently working for the Aerospace Technology Institute’s FlyZero programme, leading studies into the airport infrastructure requirements needed to supply liquid hydrogen for the operation of zero-emissions aircraft.

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