First hydrogen flight from Abu Dhabi planned


Betrand Piccard, known for his 2015-2016 historic round-the-world trip aboard a solar plane that took off and landed in Abu Dhabi, is setting his sights on a new record-breaking endeavour.
In an exclusive interview with Emirates News Agency (WAM), Piccard said he wants to embark on the first-ever nonstop hydrogen-powered flight around the globe in 2028 with Abu Dhabi as the starting point.
“I want to fly around the world nonstop in a green hydrogen-powered airplane,” the Swiss adventurer and explorer said.
“It’s not only about flying clean; it’s about demonstrating what is possible in a world where many feel disheartened about the future. There are solutions, there are potentials, and we just have to put them into action,” he said in the interview during the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Piccard’s hydrogen plane named “Climate Impulse” with two pilots onboard aims to be a beacon of hope in the fight against climate change while showcasing the possibilities of clean technology. After two years of meticulous design, construction of the hydrogen-powered aircraft is underway in western France, he said.
“We have until 2025 to build it, 2026 and 2027 for testing, and hopefully in 2028, we can embark on the ultimate flight around the world nonstop,” Piccard outlined. The aircraft will feature a revolutionary propulsion system, utilising hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity for propulsion.
In 2016, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, founders of Solar Impulse Foundation, took turns as pilots to complete the first circumnavigation of the globe of the solar plane named Solar Impulse-2 (SI2) in Abu Dhabi, supported by Masdar, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company.
They flew 40,000 km, setting 8 world records. SI2 became the first solar airplane ever to fly through the night, between two continents, and across the United States.
The successful mission of the solar flight inspires Piccard to start the next endeavour from the UAE capital.
“I have a long-lasting friendship and collaboration with Masdar. It would be fantastic to start here and finish the flight around the world here in Abu Dhabi with Climate Impulse, after having done it with the solar aeroplane.”
He explained that his goal with the solar plane was never to transport passengers. “It was to transport the message. I never said that aviation would become solar, but it was an energy project to show that with clean technologies and renewable energies, you can achieve goals that nobody thought possible, like flying around the world without fuel.”
However, the hydrogen flight is not just a symbolic gesture.
“It’s a practical step towards decarbonising the aviation industry,” Piccard emphasised. “We’re no longer just talking about the potential; we’re making it a reality.”
In addition to the groundbreaking flight, Piccard and his team are innovating in hydrogen infrastructure, developing mobile refuelling stations to support the widespread adoption of hydrogen-powered aircraft in future.
“To make hydrogen airplanes a reality, we need widespread belief and support,” he asserted. “We’re at the dawn of a new industrial era for hydrogen, and the faster it grows, the sooner it becomes affordable and accessible for all.”
Beyond aviation, Piccard’s mission underscores a broader shift towards sustainability and efficiency in all sectors. “We need to modernise our world, make it more efficient, and seize the economic opportunities of the century,” he stressed.
As preparations for the historic flight continue, Piccard remains unwavering in his commitment to driving positive change. “If we show the solutions that are economically profitable to protect the environment, we create action, excitement, and enthusiasm,” he asserted. “That’s the future we’re working towards.”


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