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Renowned aviator aims to break record with around-the-world flight in hydrogen-fueled aircraft: 'We need to restore hope'

Hydrogen-fueled aviation has seen progress over recent years.

Hydrogen-fueled aviation has seen progress over recent years.

Photo Credit: Climate Impulse

The need for speed is becoming sustainable. While the aviation sector contributes up to only 2.5% of harmful air pollution, 71% of that comes from commercial air travel. Innovations to lower planet-warming gases are not just about reducing pollution but also about creating a more efficient and quieter flying experience.  

Set for takeoff in 2028, record-breaking aviator pilot Bertrand Piccard will attempt a new record with a non-stop, global flight powered by liquid hydrogen. The aircraft, known as Climate Impulse, will trail along the equator for an estimated flying duration of nine days.  

Constructed with an electric propulsion system powered by fuel cells, the aircraft will take two years to complete before being tested for another two years.  

"In this world full of eco-anxiety, we need to restore hope and stimulate action by demonstrating disruptive solutions that lead to sustainable progress," Piccard told Aerospace Testing International.   

Hydrogen-fueled aviation has seen progress over recent years. In early 2023, flights in North America were tested for hydrogen-fueled travel, seating up to 40 passengers. 

Piccard demonstrated great interest in the upcoming feat, especially as someone who set the world record for being the first person to fly in a solar-powered aircraft in 2016 and to fly around the world in a balloon back in 1999. 

According to the United States Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when consumed in a fuel cell, produces only water. It can be created by renewable power sources such as solar and wind. This makes it an attractive fuel option for transportation and electricity generation applications.

In a test for hydrogen-powered flights carried out by Rolls Royce, it was estimated they could reduce air pollution from the aviation industry by up to 75%. Cutting down on harmful air pollution in aviation allows communities to travel efficiently while enjoying cleaner air

Looking for clean energy sources as an alternative to transportation can benefit your wallet and health at the same time. Biking, walking, or taking a rideshare will lower air pollution while being affordable. 

"More than flying around the world with a hydrogen aeroplane, Climate Impulse will explore new ways of thinking and acting to promote a better quality of life," said Piccard. 

Climate Impulse will partner with Belgian company Syensqo, supporting the development of liquid hydrogen's temperatures and pressure variability. 

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