Universal Hydrogen’s second engineering and design center will be in Toulouse, France, which is Europe’s top hub for aircraft production and innovation.
The business has leased Toulouse-Blagnac Airport’s historic Hangar B16 and named Airbus veteran Pierre Farjounel as General Manager of its European operations. Farjounel was most recently the head of Airbus’ next-generation aircraft’s Digital Continuity & Information Systems. The center’s first project will be to create a liquid hydrogen capsule for Universal Hydrogen’s modular storage and logistics system. The engineering center will assist the development of conversion kits for retrofitting regional aircraft with a hydrogen fuel cell powerplant, as well as modular hydrogen storage technologies for single aisle, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and other applications as it expands through 2022.
Universal Hydrogen has a long history in the Toulouse area. Paul Eremenko, the company’s co-founder and CEO, formerly worked as Airbus’ Chief Technology Officer, where he oversaw a number of electrification and decarbonization programs. Mark Cousin, Universal Hydrogen’s Chief Technology Officer, previously worked for Airbus as Technical Director for the Beluga XL program and then as Senior Vice President for Flight Demonstrators. Former Airbus CEO Tom Enders and former Airbus Chief Commercial Officer John Leahy are also members of Universal Hydrogen’s Strategic Advisory Board.
Universal Hydrogen is continuing to collaborate with other areas in France, as well as Germany and the Netherlands, to improve its technical and production skills. The business was one of 11 winners in the Paris Region’s “H2 Hub Airport” competition, sponsored by Airbus, ADP Group, and Air France KLM, in May 2021, and is planning to construct a full-scale hydrogen aviation demonstration, as well as a regional service center, by the end of next year.
“Decarbonizing aviation in a timeframe to meet Paris Agreement targets, the importance of which has been further underscored by the recent and devastating IPCC report, demands a global effort, including the best and brightest aviation has to offer,” said Farjounel. “We have come to Toulouse because its resources — its engineering talent, suppliers, and manufacturing base, as well as its spirit of innovation — are unparalleled.”
“We warmly welcome the decision of Universal Hydrogen to set up an engineering and design center in Toulouse since it will contribute to the ongoing development of zero-carbon aviation and hydrogen energy production,” said Carole Delga, President of the Occitanie Region. “The deployment of hydrogen is a priority for the Occitanie Region, which recently launched a green hydrogen development plan for the period 2019-2030 with a budget of €150M. Universal Hydrogen will benefit from a unique ecosystem in the Occitanie Region to further develop its expertise and become a key global player in the effort to decarbonise aviation.”
“Universal Hydrogen’s decision to establish an engineering and design center at the airport is great news for Toulouse leadership,” said Philippe Crébassa, Chairman of the Board of Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (ATB). “It strengthens ATB’s position at the forefront of innovation for carbon-free aviation. With the HyPort station, hydrogen will be real at Toulouse airport by the end of this year and we look forward to partnering with Universal Hydrogen to leverage exciting synergies.”