Jun 28, 2022
Airbus made headlines during this week’s ILA Berlin with key developments spanning the company’s military, civil, air mobility and cybersecurity businesses – led by a landmark contract for Spain’s acquisition of 20 latest-generation Eurofighter combat aircraft.
ILA Berlin was the first major European air show since 2019, and this event enabled Airbus to underscore how it pioneers sustainable aerospace for a safe and united world. It had a full range of aircraft on static display and in the flight demonstrations, as well as at the indoor exhibits at Berlin ExpoCenter Airport.
Topping the ILA Berlin news was Spain’s order for a fleet of E-Scan (electronically scanned) radar-equipped Eurofighters to replace F-18s operated by the Spanish Air Force from Gando Air Base on the Canary Islands. With deliveries to begin in 2026, these new single- and twin-seat combat aircraft will increase the Spanish Air Force’s overall inventory to 90 Eurofighters, positioning it among NATO allies with the most modern fighter jet developed in Europe.
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Initiatives, partnerships for sustainability and mobility
Six other announcements at ILA Berlin spotlighted Airbus’ efforts to move the aviation industry’s goals forward for aviation sustainability and advanced air mobility, with the company undertaking an increasingly diverse range of initiatives and lining up key partnerships.
This includes Airbus support for the German Air Force’s start-up of future flight trials using A400M multi-role airlifters powered by up to 50 percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). Looking further ahead, the goal is to enable the German Air Force’s entire fleet of Airbus-built aircraft – from airlifters and VIP transports to fighter jets – to operate on SAF, which is a proven alternative fuel that can reduce life-cycle CO2 emissions by up to 85 percent compared to conventional fuel.
In addition to supporting such near-term activities at the national level, Airbus has embarked on a long-term roadmap towards achieving 100 percent SAF readiness and certification for the various countries operating A400Ms.
A world’s first helicopter flight with sustainable aviation fuel
Another development announced during ILA Berlin was the first ever helicopter flight performed with 100 percent SAF that powered both Safran Makila 2 engines on an H225 rotorcraft. Such tests are expected to continue on other helicopter types with different fuel and engine architectures, with a view to certifying the use of 100 percent SAF by 2030.
In focusing on the ground segment aspect of future aviation sustainability, Airbus and the Linde industrial gases and engineering company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop hydrogen infrastructure at airports worldwide. They will define and launch pilot projects at several airports from early 2023 onwards, while also analysing the potential of Power-to-Liquid fuels - a type of SAF made from the synthetically-produced liquid hydrocarbon through the conversion of renewable electricity.
Driving the sustainable deployment of advanced air mobility solutions
Also at ILA Berlin, Airbus and Munich Airport International signed an MoU to start marketing turnkey solutions for cities and regions interested in developing advanced air mobility (AAM) ecosystems globally. The successful integration of different AAM elements – including Airbus’ CityAirbus NextGen electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft – requires a strong cooperation between global and local stakeholders combining key competencies, including partners such as Munich Airport.
Additionally, Airbus unveiled a partnership with KLK Motorsport and Modell- und Formenbau Blasius Gerg GmbH to design, develop and manufacture CityAirbus NextGen’s rear structure. They will work together to develop an ultra-lightweight rear fuselage based on high-end composite solutions and components – mutually benefitting from each of their competencies in design engineering and manufacturing processes.
An A321LR delivery to the German armed forces
A delivery ceremony at ILA Berlin marked the handover of the first of two A321LR (Long Range) aircraft for the German armed forces. It was reconfigured from the commercial version by Lufthansa Technik AG for flexible troop and passenger transport – as well as parliamentary flight operations – on short-, medium- and long-haul routes. Lufthansa Technik also made preparations for the aircraft’s medical evacuation role, which will expand its scope of operations to include the transport of wounded, injured and ill passengers as a flying intensive care unit.
"Together with our partner Lufthansa Technik, we have worked to ensure this aircraft meets all expectations," explained Guillaume Faury, the Chief Executive Officer of Airbus. "The A321LR not only flies longer routes than ever, it also delivers a 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to previous-generation aircraft and is certified to run on 50 percent sustainable aviation fuels, which can reduce emissions even further."
Six H145Ms ordered for the Cypriot National Guard
With the H145M battlefield support helicopter displayed at ILA Berlin, the air show was a highly appropriate venue for Airbus’ contract announcement for six of these rotorcraft to be operated by the Cypriot National Guard. The order, from the Government of Cyprus, is for the H145M version with a six-blade main rotor – and includes options for another six.
The agreement will provide the Cypriot National Guard with a cost-effective and high-performance helicopter that addresses many of the future challenges for light attack helicopter fleets, delivering rapid response, firepower and precision, along with providing effective combat support and acquiring critical information.
Derived from the civilian H145, the latest version of Airbus Helicopters’ H145M features a new, innovative five-blade main rotor that increases the rotorcraft’s payload by 150 kg., with its bearingless design simplifying maintenance operations.
H145M LUH SOF - Bundeswehr at ILA airshow
An innovation hub for cybersecurity and artificial intelligence
A key step in Airbus’ strategy to continue strengthening its cybersecurity capabilities and expertise was taken at ILA Berlin through an MoU signing with the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security. This agreement will lead to the opening of a center of excellence for cybersecurity and trustworthy artificial intelligence in Saarland, Germany.
To be located at the CISPA Innovation Campus, the "CISPA-Airbus Digital Innovation Hub" will start operations in 2022. The intention is to grow its operation to approximately 100 experts within the next three years – ultimately expanding to more than 500 experts.