Airbus, one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers, has developed concepts for three hydrogen-powered aircraft it's calling 'ZEROe' or 'zero-emission', with plans that could reduce the aviation industry's carbon emissions by up to 50 percent.
Unlike many design concepts for industry-changing airplanes, the ZEROe aircraft look very similar to the airliners of today. The timeframe is also much shorter than other proposals too, with the aim to have the aircraft in the air by 2035.
One ZEROe design does look remarkably similar to a classic commercial aircraft; but it has longer, more flexible wings.
Another resembles turboprop-powered airliners such as the ATR or Q300, with an arrangement of six-bladed propellers.
The third design has a 'blended-wing body', which has seen some traction among engineers over the last year.
But the main difference for all three aircraft designs is their use of hydrogen propulsion.
"As recently as five years ago, hydrogen propulsion wasn't even on our radar as a viable emission-reduction technology pathway," Glenn Llewellyn, the vice president of Airbus' Zero-Emission Aircraft programme.
"But convincing data from other transport industries quickly changed all that. Today, we're excited by the incredible potential hydrogen offers aviation in terms of disruptive emissions reduction."
Airbus estimates hydrogen has the potential to reduce aviation's CO2 emissions by up to 50 percent. If hydrogen technology development progresses at the expected rate, Airbus' highly anticipated zero-emission commercial aircraft is expected to roll off the assembly line for entry into service by 2035.
To meet this ambitious target, Airbus will need to get the ZEROe aircraft programme well underway by 2025.
This comparatively short timeframe gives engineers approximately five years to master all of the required hydrogen technologies.
"The ZEROe will be the world's first zero-emission commercial aircraft," Jean-Brice Dumont, Airbus executive vice president engineering said.
"As an engineer, I can't think of working on anything more exciting than that."
A full-scale aircraft prototype is estimated to arrive by the late 2020s.