EU-backed Clean Aviation has awarded a total of €152 million ($162 million) in funding to eight projects as part of its first phase efforts.

Designed to complement the 20 projects under way since January, the latest batch were awarded as part of Clean Aviation’s second call for proposals which closed in May. Work is scheduled to start in January 2024.

Clean Aviation-c-DLR

Source: DLR

Phase-one projects will help pave way for later flight testing

Clean Aviation is providing €86 million dedicated to hydrogen-powered aircraft, €33 million for hybrid-electric regional aircraft, and €33 million for short- and medium-range aircraft. Including industry contributions, the projects have a total value of €380 million.

Several projects selected to receive Clean Aviation funding appear related to existing research and technology initiatives.

For example, the Airbus-led FAME (Fuel Cell Propulsion System for Aircraft Megawatt Engines) programme seems to mirror ongoing work by the airframer under its ZEROe initiative.

A ground-based fuel cell powertrain demonstrator earlier this year achieved output of 1.2MW in tests; Airbus aims to later flight test the system aboard an A380 testbed.

Additionally, MTU Aero Engines – which is also developing what it calls the Flying Fuel Cell – will receive a Clean Aviation grant for a project called HEROPS, or Hydrogen-Electric Zero Emission Propulsion System.

Other recipients of Clean Aviation funding include: Safran, for a hydrogen propulsion project called TROPHY; Leonardo, to design fuselages and empennages for hybrid-electric aircraft; and French aerospace research agency ONERA will also lead a project called AWATAR – Advanced Wing Maturation and Integration.

Axel Krein, executive director of the Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking, says: “These cutting-edge projects will help to pave the way towards an entry-into-service of new, highly efficient aircraft by 2035, demonstrating that environmental responsibility and breakthrough technical advances go hand in hand for a better future.”

Clean Aviation’s first phase projects are due to conclude in 2025 or 2026, paving the way for a follow-on phase that sees ground- and flight-testing activities beginning that year.

Separately, the UK has been readmitted to the Horizon Europe research programme, which should enable easier access to funding through Clean Aviation.

Although several firms such as Rolls-Royce are working as part of phase-one consortia, their UK arms are unable to lead projects and funding has been provided via the UK Research & Innovation body.

Kevin Craven, chief executive of the UK’s ADS trade group, welcomed the move: “We have been consistently clear that [Horizon Europe] will help drive the innovation and collaboration needed to develop the next generation of technologies to address a wide range of societal challenges.”