Blue Condor: Gliding into the next generation of flight
Airbus has engaged full throttle towards its goal of introducing the first commercially-available, hydrogen-powered aircraft. With this goal in mind, Airbus recently launched the Blue Condor, two modified Arcus gliders that will soar up to 33,000 feet to analyze hydrogen combustion’s impact on contrails in three separate missions. The initiative, developed by Airbus UpNext, will provide critical information on aviation’s non-CO2 emissions, including contrails and NOx, in advance of the ZEROe demonstrator flight testing.
The gliders used are something of an anomaly in the world of sailplanes. In addition to its 20-meter wingspan, it has a retractable PBS TJ-100 jet engine that assists the glider when self-launching and on longer flights. For Blue Condor, one glider will possess a hydrogen-propulsion system replacing the rear pilot seat, and two 700-bar gaseous hydrogen tanks will fuel the turbojet hydrogen combustion engine. The other glider will have a conventional kerosene-powered engine, allowing comparisons to be made between the composition of the contrails.
The project is the brainchild of Colombian-born Airbus UpNext engineer, Jose Alejandro Diaz Vides. Jose Alejandro is originally from Cartagena, Colombia and moved to Braunschweig, Germany to complete his B.Sc. and M.S.c. in aeronautical engineering.
“It’s important that we encourage awareness on how a new generation of engineers and scientists can contribute to decarbonization within aviation and other sectors - it’s truly an inspiring project,” Jose remarked about Blue Condor.
Jose’s expertise on these topics goes beyond aviation, he is passionate about alternative sources of energy. He works closely with Light Up a Life, a cooperation agreement between WindAid Institute, INP Toulouse and Airbus, with additional assistance from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. The cooperation agreement brings interns and volunteers together to build and install wind turbines in rural Peruvian communities.
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