FRANCE TO SAVE ITS AIRCRAFT INDUSTRY AND DEVELOP A HYDROGEN-POWERED PLANE

William Law - Jun 15, 2020
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France will invest 15 billion euros in the aircraft industry, is a major investment where Airbus is expected to develop a hydrogen-powered plane.

"We are declaring a state of emergency to save our aeronautics industry to enable it to be more competitive" and "more carbon-free" by producing the "green aircraft" of tomorrow. This is what Bruno Le Maire said at a press conference held on 9 June. Like many countries, France sees an opportunity in the crisis, and plans to take advantage of the standstill caused by the coronavirus to boost its aircraft industry. President Emmanuel Macron has announced that the government will allocate 15 billion euros in financial aid, of which one-tenth will be used to design a new plane that is carbon neutral.

The French government has agreed to invest 1.5 billion euros to develop a hybrid plane that can use hydrogen instead of just fossil fuels. The plan is not new. In fact, the original roadmap already addressed having a ‘green’ aircraft by 2050; but the French government wants to speed up the plans and take the lead against the industries of the US and China.

The A320’s Successor

By 2026 or 2028, Airbus will have developed a model to succeed the A320, the most successful aircraft of the European multinational, and that is also 30% more efficient than the current one.

The Macron administration urges Airbus to accelerate plans to develop the A320’s successor, which is expected in six years.

“Between 2033 and 2035, we expect to design “a carbon-neutral plane”, ten years earlier than planned,” said Elisabeth Borne Minister of the Ecological and Inclusive Transition. "This will enable us to set new global standards for low-carbon aircraft," she added.

Airbus wanted to have a successor to the A320 by 2030. This single-aisle model was introduced in 1984, and despite numerous updates such as the CEO and NEO versions, there’s been discussions at headquarters for two years about the need to replace it for a newer model manufactured from scratch.

In addition, the French government presses Airbus engineers to develop a new type of aircraft for regional flights before the end of the decade and to also use fuels such as hydrogen to fly.

Drastic Measure in the Aircraft Industry

Of the 15 billion euros of financial aid announced by Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy and Finance, about 7 billion will go to Air France to keep the company afloat and avoid job losses.

In addition to the 1.5 billion allocated to the development of a new aircraft, Airbus will receive 3.5 billion in export credits, which will serve to maintain aircraft orders that have already been made or maybe submitted in the future by airlines.

Le Maire said that without this drastic measure in the aircraft industry, France could lose 100,000 jobs during the next six months. The aeronautics sector represents 300,000 direct and indirect jobs in France.

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