5 problems facing hydrogen-powered airplanes

By Tommaso Lecca | 05/02/2024 06:27 AM EDT

Hydrogen could help make flying greener, but switching away from fossil fuels poses some hefty challenges.

A hydrogen-powered airplane by APUS Group is displayed at the Hanover technology fair.

Most hydrogen on the market today is so-called gray hydrogen, made by splitting natural gas — which emits a lot of CO2. Axel Heimken/AFP via Getty Images

BRUSSELS — The best way to cut greenhouse gas emissions from flying is to fly less — but that’s a nonstarter for the industry and millions of passengers.

Instead, the sector is hunting for a tech fix that would allow airplanes to keep flying while polluting less — and one idea is to use hydrogen. But there are big questions over whether this is a workable solution.

Here are five challenges facing hydrogen-powered aviation.


Hydrogen can be very clean or very dirty — it all depends on how it’s produced.