Airbus UpNext, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Airbus, has revealed a flight test program to study the contrails produced by hydrogen and kerosene combustion engines.
The PBS TJ100 engine was selected by Airbus for this project based on its excellent altitude characteristics, as well as the experience gained by Desert Aerospace LLC, the company of well-known American test pilot and performer Bob Carlton, in building and operating high-performance gliders powered by PBS TJ100 engines.
However, the experience gained by the PBS during the long-term test programme of the PBS TJ100 engine on the Let L-13 Blaník glider also contributed to the success of Desert Aerospace glider modifications.
One of the Arcus-J gliders will be configured like any sailplane capable of free flight thanks to its 20-meter wingspan, but with the added advantage of a retractable PBS TJ100 jet engine to optimize the glider’s self-launching and long cross-country capabilities. The second one will be modified by Airbus engineers, replacing the rear pilot seating with a hydrogen-propulsion system. Two 700-bar gaseous hydrogen tanks will provide fuel to the turbojet hydrogen combustion engine.
The Blue Condor project will be supported by the Perlan Project team, which also provide the high-altitude glider pilots, the same pilots who in 2018 set the world subsonic altitude record - 76,124 feet - in a pressurized glider for Airbus Perlan Mission II.
To ensure 100% comparable data between the hydrogen and conventional engine, the test flights will be carried out back-to-back under the same meteorological conditions. Test flights are scheduled for late 2022 in North Dakota in collaboration with the University of North Dakota.