In conjunction with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), Airbus is researching the efficacy of fuel cell technology for self-directed taxiing. The manufacturer believes the technology is so promising, in fact, that it utilized a fuel cell system to provide backup power for a civil transport aircraft in 2008.
A technology demonstrator developed by DLR has also been recently installed in an A320 at an Airbus facility in Hamburg, Germany. According to Airbus, the demonstrator encompasses a fuel cell controlling an electronic motor, which steers the nose landing gear and enables the plane to taxi independently.
The aircraft manufacturer believes this technology could have strong implications for the aviation industry. “The objective of these tests is to further validate the potential of the integrated fuel cell technology for powering future aircraft functionalities, such as autonomous taxiing,” Airbus said in a statement.
Developing innovative aviation practices is all part of the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe’s ACARE 2020 initiative, which Airbus supports fully. Some of ACARE’s top goals include finding sustainable ways to reduce CO2 emissions and noise by 50 percent and decrease NOx emissions by 80 percent.
To Airbus, employing fuel cell technology for autonomous taxiing is a key way for airlines to reduce their carbon footprints and embrace greener aviation policies. The manufacturer is also studying and advocating the use of biofuels as alternative power sources.