The French government unveiled on Tuesday a € 15 billion plan to help the country’s aeronautical sector. In addition to providing aid to Air France, the main French airline, the package conditions the nation’s aerospace industry to invest in new technologies and products.
Among several planned initiatives, the one that draws the most attention involves the successor to the Airbus family of A320 commercial jets. In the Macron government’s view, it is time to invest in disruptive and sustainable technologies.
Within this scope, the future commercial aircraft should be 30% more efficient in fuel consumption and be able to use only biofuel or even hydrogen. The goal is for a technology-demonstrating aircraft to be completed between 2026 and 2028 and put into service around 2033 to 2035.
In fact, Airbus is already studying a new generation of aircraft to replace the A320neo, currently the most successful narrowbody jet on the market. Recently, a planemaker job vacancy announcement cited this new aircraft among the assignments of new employees requested by the company.
Hybrid plane to replace ATR
The French plan also outlines other aircraft, including a regional aircraft that can use hybrid electric or hydrogen propulsion. Possibly a successor to the successful ATR turboprop, the new aircraft is expected to enter into operation in 2030.
Other projects include a hybrid replacement for Airbus’ H125 helicopter, a business jet, high-performance drones and even more modern air traffic systems.
The French aerospace industry includes traditional companies in the sector such as Dassault, Safran, Thales and Airbus itself, and its survival means keeping thousands of jobs.
It remains, however, to understand how the French government’s investment will be received by its partner countries, such as Germany, which is a partner in several projects in the country.