How Does Hydrogen Fit into GSE’s Future?

May 14, 2024
Operational trials like Project Acorn at Bristol Airport aim to prove hydrogen’s viability in the ground support space.
Josh Smith, Editor - Ground Support Worldwide
Josh Smith, Editor - Ground Support Worldwide

An airside hydrogen refueling trial was recently completed at Bristol Airport.

Led by easyJet and supported by numerous other stakeholders, the project – known as Project Acorn – featured baggage tractors and other units of ground support equipment (GSE) that were refueled and powered by hydrogen.

easyJet worked with Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, Cranfield University, Connected Places Catapult (CPC), DHL Supply Chain, Fuel Cell Systems, the IAAPS research institute, Jacobs, Mulag and TCR to conduct the trial and perform the airline’s daily operations with the hydrogen-powered equipment.

The goal was to demonstrate how hydrogen can be used safely and reliably to power GSE in the airport environment.

“It’s without doubt that hydrogen will be an important fuel of the future for short-haul aviation, as demonstrated by the rate of innovation we’re seeing,” David Morgan, chief operating officer at easyJet, said in a press release announcing the conclusion of the trial.

Although the trial yielded positive results, project stakeholders noted it is only a first step in the process and more work needs to be done.

“While the technology is advancing at an exciting pace, as hydrogen isn’t used in commercial aviation today, there is currently no regulatory guidance in place on how it can and should be used, and so trials like this are very important in building the safety case and providing critical data and insight to inform the development of the industry’s first regulatory framework,” Morgan said. “This will ensure regulation not only keeps pace with innovation, but importantly also supports the industry in meeting its decarbonization targets by 2050.”

For example, ground infrastructure, safety standards and operational procedures need to be developed to ensure the safe use of hydrogen powered equipment.

New technologies continue to shape our industry, and interest in hydrogen powered GSE is growing. Ground Support Worldwide will share the latest news as this technology continues to develop. We encourage you to reach out to our editorial staff to share your opinion and experiences with hydrogen technology.

About the Author

Josh Smith | Editor