Hydrogen Aviation Lab unveiled with a redesigned A320

Hydrogen Aviation Lab

In a bid to advance science, a decommissioned Airbus A320 is being given a new lease on life. The Hydrogen Aviation Lab has been presented as Hamburg’s new field laboratory for evaluating ground operations and maintenance procedures for upcoming hydrogen-powered aircraft.

World Airline News

In order to achieve climate neutrality, the aviation sector is working to adopt hydrogen as a future energy source. This necessitates new ground infrastructure in addition to new planes. In order to create such a hydrogen infrastructure, Hamburg is leading the way: Together, Lufthansa Technik, DLR, ZAL, and Hamburg Airport will design and test ground-based methods for hydrogen technology maintenance.

Michael Westhagemann, the senator for economic affairs in Hamburg, examined the repurposed Airbus A320 on behalf of his ministry, which provided funding for the collaboration between Lufthansa Technik, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the ZAL Center for Applied Aeronautical Research, and Hamburg Airport. The installation of the hydrogen components in the upcoming months will begin with the presentation of the Hydrogen Aviation Lab.

Hamburg News

A new milestone for the project has now been attained. The aircraft, which flew for the Lufthansa Group for 30 years as “Halle a der Saale,” has been readied by Lufthansa Technik for its vital next phase. The Hydrogen Aviation Lab will be equipped over the coming months with a complete set of test devices, an internal tank for liquid hydrogen and an onboard fuel cell, and supporting ground-based hydrogen infrastructure.

With the Hydrogen Aviation Lab, Hamburg has embarked on a great project. It will make a valuable contribution to enabling the use of hydrogen as a fuel for aviation. The focus on maintenance and refuelling procedures should provide us with insights that will be important for developing hydrogen infrastructure. This real-world lab lets us add a crucial building block to Hamburg’s strategy to make aviation more sustainable. We are following two strategic goals: the development of a hydrogen economy in Hamburg and the decarbonisation of the mobility industries. We are very pleased to be able to make this world-first project possible through the Special Aviation Fund- Senator Michael Westhagemann comments

The project partners hope that the Hydrogen Aviation Lab will help them get ready for the handling and maintenance of hydrogen-powered aircraft, which are expected to enter service in the middle of the next decade. However, the lab will also encourage the creation of new generations of hydrogen-powered aircraft by assisting in the optimization of ground handling or maintenance processes and safety levels.

The many variables involved

Using liquid hydrogen to refuel

Representative | FuelCellWorks
  • What modifications can the current airport infrastructure be made to best integrate hydrogen?
  • How can efficient refueling procedures and times be guaranteed?
  • How can overfilling and wasting hydrogen be avoided?

Insulation, cooling, and workplace safety

  • How can ice build-up on components and surfaces be prevented?
  • What potential additional safety needs might emerge in the work environment?

Hydrogen gas leakage, colloquially known as “boil-off”

  • How can uncontrolled escape of LH2 be prevented when it becomes gaseous (GH2)?
  • What precautions must be taken when handling hydrogens, such as during refueling and storage?

Safety and storage measures

  • What safeguards must be implemented to lessen the risk of hydrogen fire?
  • What kind of training is required for the ground staff or maintenance staff?

And there’s more…


The project also entails developing a so-called digital twin of the Airbus A320, in addition, to studying using the actual hardware of the Hydrogen Aviation Lab. Researchers will be able to create and test predictive maintenance techniques for the systems and parts of upcoming aircraft generations thanks to simulations. Therefore, failures of hydrogen systems and components could be predicted using targeted data analysis before their occurrence in the physical system, allowing for prompt replacements before component failures have an impact on aircraft performance.

SOURCE: lufthansa-technik

COVER: lufthansa-technik