Airbus and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) have signed an agreement to work together on research of the infrastructure requirements for hybrid and electric aircraft.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the manufacturer and carrier will cooperate on a joint project to enhance understanding of the operational and infrastructure opportunities and challenges involved with the large-scale introduction of hybrid and full-electric aircraft to airline operations.

According to Airbus, the project involves five “work packages” that focus on analysing the impact of ground infrastructure and charging on range, resources, time and availability at airports.

The collaboration also includes a plan to involve a renewable energy supplier as Airbus and SAS aim to ensure zero CO2 emissions are assessed.

Airbus says modern aircraft are around 80 per cent more fuel efficient per passenger kilometre than they were 50 years ago, but it warns that more needs to be done to reduce the aviation industry’s impact on the environment, as global air traffic growth is predicted to double over the next 20 years.

SAS and Airbus have joined the Global Aviation Industry (ATAG) in committing to achieving carbon-neutral growth for the industry as a while from 2020 onwards, which could cut net emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 compared to 2005.

The airline has set itself the goal of reducing its own emissions by 25 per cent by 2030 by modernising its fleet and increasing the use of biofuels.

SAS chief executive Rickard Gustafson said: “We are proud of our ambitious sustainability work and are now pleased that Airbus has chosen SAS to partner up with us for this future project. If this becomes a reality, it will revolutionise emissions.”

Grazia Vittadini, CTO of Airbus, added: “We are delighted to be embarking on this partnership with SAS. Leveraging our respective expertise to explore the potential of hybrid-electric propulsion opportunities in our aviation ecosystem.”

Other airlines looking into sustainable alternatives to current aviation fuel include Qantas and All Nippon Airways, which have committed to using more biofuel to reduce emissions. Meanwhile, Easyjet is working with Wright Electric to develop all-electric aircraft.

flysas.com; airbus.com

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