Why Lyon Airport Will Pilot The Airbus Hydrogen Network

Lyon Airport will play a crucial role in the next chapter of aviation. The site will pilot Airbus’ ambitious hydrogen network in the next few years. Let’s take a look at the setup of this plan.

Hydrogen Airbus
Airbus is looking to introduce hydrogen commercial flight by 2035, and it’s making the right collaborations ahead of this target. Photo: Airbus

Three is the magic number

Airbus has joined forces with Air Liquide and VINCI Airports to utilize hydrogen at airports. Following this, the partnership intends to scale up the European airport network to meet the requirements of future hydrogen-based planes.

Lyon-Saint Exupéry has been chosen to host the first hydrogen installations as soon as 2023. Airbus partnership reflects the three companies’ shared ambition to combine their respective expertise to support the decarbonization of air travel. Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport is VINCI Airport’s centre of excellence for innovation in France, and has been a great spot to trial the latest digital, biometric and AI tech.

“For us, Lyon Airport is the first one [where] we want to implement this kind of hydrogen facility [before expanding] all along our networks, which today, is more than 45 airports,” Eric Delobel, chief technical officer at VINCI, shared at the Airbus Summit.

“So, the challenge here is to scale it up from the pilot in Lyon to the other airports in order to create a network of hydrogen. This is really the ultimate goal.”

VINCI is a concessions and construction giant that manages major airports all around the world, including Lyon. Photo: VINCI Airports

Delobel added that there are promising factors about hydrogen as it is already something that makes sense for the facilities at the airport. Ultimately, it is the right ecosystem for a program such as this to excel.

The strategy

Overall, the implementation of this program will be rolled out in three phases.

From 2023, it will launch the hydrogen gas distribution station in Lyon. This supply will support the airport and its partners’ ground vehicles, such as buses, and trucks, and handling equipment. It will also back heavy goods vehicles around the site. This stage is vital to testing the hydrogen hub model.

In the three years that follow the initial launch, the program will deploy liquid hydrogen infrastructures to fuel future aircraft tanks. Then, as the 2030s get underway it’s expected that hydrogen will be ready to be utilized by the masses via the network.

Hydrogen Ecosystem Airbus
Air Liquide has over a century of experience in the gas industry, providing a vital hand in the hydrogen mission. Photo: Airbus

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A strong team

Altogether, with an existing network of 45 airports across 12 nations, VINCI has a strong presence to test and grow the deployment of hydrogen in the aviation industry. Airbus is putting considerable faith in hydrogen as the answer to sustainable commercial travel in the long term. It is also determined to operate in a net-zero ecosystem by 2050.

So, with a legacy gas powerhouse such as Air Liquide on board, the three organizations have the right expertise to usher in a new generation of aviation.

What are your thoughts about the plans of Airbus and its partners to build a hydrogen network? Do you think that this would be a good move for the industry? Let us know what you think of the overall goals in the comment section.