Airbus and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly research eco-system and infrastructure requirements of hybrid and electric aircraft.

The collaboration between the two firms will begin next month and will continue until the end of next year.

According to the MoU, the two firms will collaborate on a joint research project to improve enhance understanding of the operational and infrastructure opportunities, as well as challenges in the introduction of hybrid and fully electric aircraft to airlines’ modus operandi.

The scope of the project consists of five work packages, which will focus on examining the impact of ground infrastructure and charging on range, resources, time and availability at airports.

The collaboration also features a plan to involve a renewable energy supplier in order to ensure assessment of zero CO2 emissions.

Following this multidisciplinary approach ranging from energy to infrastructure, the collaboration aims to address the full aircraft operations ecosystem. This is necessary to better support the aviation industry’s transition to sustainable energy.

Although aircraft are around 80% more fuel-efficient per passenger kilometre than they were five decades ago, with air traffic growth predicted to be more than double over the next 20 years, reducing aviation’s impact on the environment is a key issue for the industry.

“The collaboration between the two firms will begin next month and will continue until the end of next year.”

To address this challenge, the Global Aviation Industry (ATAG), Airbus and SAS have committed to achieving carbon-neutral growth for the aviation industry from 2020, which will reduce aviation net emissions by 50% by 2050 when compared with 2005.

Airbus focuses its research on developing hybrid-electric and electric propulsion technologies. It has begun building a portfolio of technology demonstrators and is currently testing innovative hybrid propulsion systems, subsystems and components to meet long-term efficiency goals for developing and operating electric aircraft.