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Hydrogen Aircraft (Market Size, Advancements and Key Programs) – Thematic Research

Pages: 26 Published: July 30, 2021 Report Code: GDDEF-TR-S044

Hydrogen has significant energy potential since it is much more energy-dense than battery power, its main competitor. A key barrier to uptake is the relative size of fuel tanks needed to contain it and the advanced engines needed to utilize it. The development of these aircraft faces major challenges in terms of technology as well as infrastructure: Advancements need to be made to facilitate the use of hydrogen in commercial aircraft and to improve its viability in terms of long distances. There also needs to be significant investment in infrastructure to enable hydrogen to be produced and transported in sufficient quantities.

Investment in key technologies ranging from fuselages to hydrogen fuel cells will need to be ramped up to facilitate the development of hydrogen aircraft. A number of companies are investing in this space but much more research will be needed to achieve the efficacy needed to enable widespread commercial aviation powered by hydrogen.

What are the market dynamics of the hydrogen aircraft market?

Whilst there will likely be functioning commercial aircraft that are powered by hydrogen by 2030, it is unlikely that the technology will be in widespread commercial use before 2040. When hydrogen aircraft are utilized, they will likely be initially focused on short- and medium-term flights, since the technology and cost restraints will likely only facilitate flying a certain distance. The IATA forecasts that the number of global air passengers will double to 8.2 billion by 2037, and this will require significant increases in aviation infrastructure. The IATA acknowledges that aviation is one of the hardest sectors in which to implement alternative fuels because of the power and safety requirements but suggests that the technology is developing in the right direction. Whilst the current focus is on increasing energy efficiency, in the short to medium-term focus will be on synfuels. In the longer term, technologies including hydrogen and electric aircraft will come to the fore.

Supply chain issues will emerge in the initial years of a transition to hydrogen use. Additionally, refueling would take longer and would likely require two hoses instead of one in order to provide fuel at the same rate, increases in refuelling time would make turnaround times longer for commercial flights, decreasing revenue. Whilst projections estimate that hydrogen will only be marginally more expensive than kerosene for short-haul flights (10%), for long haul flights these costs increase (up to 50%) and thus decreases the feasibility of hydrogen for long-distance flights at least until the technology becomes advanced enough for these costs to be mitigated.

What are the market trends in the hydrogen aircraft market?

There is a mainstream investment in the development of passenger aircraft for the commercial market, manufacturers including Airbus are working on the technology. Whilst the technology is mostly in the concept phase, steps are being taken to advance the specific technologies which will facilitate commercial use.

The reduction in air traffic due to the pandemic has drawn more attention to the contribution of air travel to carbon emissions. This will increase focus on more environmentally friendly fuels and aircraft. However, COVID-19 has also hit manufacturers and airlines financially, which will have the knock-on effect of lower R&D budgets in the next 24 months.

A number of countries have developed targets for hydrogen. Whilst these are not specifically targeted at aviation, the scaling up of hydrogen production will increase the viability of widespread hydrogen aircraft in the future. The push for clean aviation has thus far focused on energy efficiency, reducing CO2 emissions by advancing aircraft which require less fuels, and the use of biofuels.

What is the hydrogen aircraft value chain segmentation?

The hydrogen aircraft value chain can be split into three sections: Aircraft, fuel, power, and propulsion systems. 

Hydrogen aircraft

Hydrogen technology is complex and may require significantly different aircraft to accommodate larger fuel tanks. Additionally, since hydrogen fuel tanks are large, lightweight composite materials will need to be utilized in the development of hydrogen aircraft to offset their weight and enable them to fly longer distances. There are several companies developing advanced hydrogen aircraft for future commercial use. 


There is an expectation that hydrogen will be able to piggyback on non-aviation sources of hydrogen development, however, a number of companies are developing aviation-specific fuel solutions. 

Power and propulsion systems

More energy-efficient technology will need to be developed in order to facilitate the use of hydrogen, and more advanced batteries, in particular, will enable its use in aviation.

Which are the leading companies in the hydrogen aircraft market?

The major public companies in the Hydrogen Aircraft market include Airbus, Air Liquide, Air Products and Chemicals (APD), ArianeGroup, Boeing, and Bloom Energy.

The major private companies in the Hydrogen Aircraft market include Aeristech, Alaka’i Technologies, China Commercial Air Group, GKN Aerospace, Norsk E-Fuel, and Pipistrel.

Market report scope

Key Companies Airbus, Air Liquide, Air Products and Chemicals (APD), ArianeGroup, Boeing, Bloom Energy, Aeristech, Alaka’i Technologies, China Commercial Air Group, GKN Aerospace, Norsk E-Fuel, and Pipistrel
Key Value Chain segments Aircraft, Fuel, Power, and Propulsion Systems

This report is a thematic analysis of the Hydrogen Aircraft market. It provides:

  • Key themes in hydrogen development are established, both in terms of aerospace trends, technology trends, and macroeconomic trends.
  • Details of the market trends over the next 24 months, outlining which sectors are likely to benefit from increased spending on hydrogen aircraft.
  • Access to industry data on the market trends, market segmentation, and the key companies.

Reasons to Buy

  • Determine potential investment opportunities based on trend analysis and market projections.
  • Gain an understanding of the market surrounding the hydrogen aircraft theme.
  • Understanding of how hydrogen aircraft spending will fit into the overall market and what spending areas are being prioritized.

Key Players

China Commercial Air Group
Air Products and Chemicals
Bloom Energy
Air Liquide
EMEC Hydrogen
Norsk E-Fuek
MTU Aero Engines
Cummins (CMI)
H3 Dynamics
GKN Aerospace
Ratheon Technologies

Table of Contents

Executive summary


Technology briefing


Industry analysis

Value chain



Further reading

Our thematic research methodology

About GlobalData

Contact Us

List of Tables

Technology trends

Macroeconomic trends

Regulatory trends

Mergers and acquisitions

Investments and partnerships

Public companies

Private companies


Further reading

List of Figures

Who are the leading players in the hydrogen aircraft theme and where do they sit in the value chain?

Hydrogen fuel cells use hydrogen and oxygen to create power, with wat+U2:X2er as a by-product


The hydrogen aircraft value chain

Major companies are designing the fuselage of future aircraft that could be powered by hydrogen

A number of companies are developing advanced engines or fuel cells for hydrogen aircraft

A number of companies are developing advanced engines or fuel cells for hydrogen aircraft

Frequently Asked Questions

The hydrogen aircraft value chain can be split into three sections: aircraft, fuel, power and propulsion systems.



Leading public companies in the hydrogen aircraft market include Airbus, Air Liquide, Air Products and Chemicals (APD), ArianeGroup, Boeing, and Bloom Energy.

Leading private companies in the hydrogen aircraft market include Aeristech, Alaka’i Technologies, China Commercial Air Group, GKN Aerospace, Norsk E-Fuel, and Pipistrel.


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