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easyJet uses hydrogen to power baggage tractors in ground-breaking airport trial

As part of a ground-breaking trial the low-cost carrier easyJet has used hydrogen at Bristol Airport (BRS) to refuel and power ground support equipment (GSE), specifically baggage tractors.  

Dubbed ‘Project Acorn’ it was the first airside hydrogen refueling trial ever to take place at a major UK airport and was led by easyJet and supported by several cross-industry partners. 

The hydrogen powered baggage tractors successfully carried out daily operations while demonstrating that the gas can be safely and reliably used to refuel ground equipment in the busy, live airport environment. 

The trial was in development for over a year with organizations such as Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, Cranfield University, Connected Places Catapult (CPC), DHL Supply Chain, Fuel Cell Systems, the IAAPS research institute, Jacobs, Mulag and TCR all involved. 

The group intends to use the outputs of the trial to help develop industry best practice standards, provide guidance to airports, airlines, local authorities and regulators on required infrastructure changes, and support the development of a regulatory framework for hydrogen’s use on an airfield – standards which, due to hydrogen’s nascency in aviation, do not currently exist. 

The data and insights gathered will also feed into research conducted by groups like Hydrogen in Aviation (HIA), which is an organization that includes easyJet, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Ørsted, GKN Aerospace and BRS and advocates for the UK to keep pace with the technological developments in carbon-emission free flying. 

“While the technology is advancing at an exciting pace, as hydrogen isn’t used in commercial aviation today, there is currently no regulatory guidance in place on how it can and should be used, and so trials like this are very important in building the safety case and providing critical data and insight to inform the development of the industry’s first regulatory framework,” David Morgan, Chief Operating Officer at easyJet, said. 

Morgan added: “This will ensure regulation not only keeps pace with innovation, but importantly also supports the industry in meeting its decarbonisation targets by 2050.” 

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) also played an active role in the trial as an independent reviewer of the safety case. 

“Projects such as this are cornerstones of our commitment to support innovation and decarbonisation in the industry. This trial will serve as the basis of a White Paper which we will also be contributing to, as well as allow for the creation of further safety guidance and regulatory standards for the use of hydrogen in aviation,” Tim Johnson, Director for Strategy, Policy and Communications at the CAA, said. 

The post easyJet uses hydrogen to power baggage tractors in ground-breaking airport trial appeared first on AeroTime.

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