Airbus will fly the Perlan 2 pressurized, high-altitude glider on July 26 at 2:45 p.m. CDT at this year’s EAA AirVenture. The Airbus Perlan 2 mission team set the world subsonic altitude record of 76,124 feet in 2018 and plans to fly it to its ceiling of 90,000 feet next year. The team hopes to fly a modified version of the aircraft to 100,000 feet.
In addition to its pursuit of world altitude records, the Perlan Project is supporting the Airbus UpNext “Blue Condor” project to compare contrails of hydrogen and sustainable fuels at high altitudes using two modified Arcus gliders, one fitted with a hydrogen-burning engine and the other with a kerosene-fueled powerplant. UpNext is part of Airbus’s ZEROe roadmap to develop zero-emission commercial aircraft.
"Contrail characterization is of significant interest to Airbus. We know that hydrogen emits no carbon dioxide when burned, but we also know that with water vapor and heat being the most significant by-products, hydrogen combustion does produce contrails. Although these contrails differ significantly to those produced by conventional jet-A/A1 combustion engines, understanding their composition will be key to support our decarbonization journey,” said Sandra Bour Schaeffer, CEO of Airbus UpNext.
The Blue Condor flights are scheduled late this year in North Dakota in cooperation with the University of North Dakota and the German Research Center DLR, which will collect and analyze data captured using sensors aboard chase aircraft. Airbus will ensure the provision of the hydrogen system and equipment, including the combustion engine as well as the details of the flight test mission.