Low-cost airline easyJet and aerospace manufacturer Rolls-Royce said they have powered a concept aircraft engine with hydrogen in a world-first.
The companies claimed the ground test was a “major step” towards proving that hydrogen could be a zero-carbon aviation fuel.
The test took place at the Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down site in Amesbury, Wiltshire.
EasyJet and Rolls-Royce formed a partnership in July with the aim of demonstrating that hydrogen could be used in a range of aircraft from the mid-2030s onwards.
Both companies have pledged to reach net zero for carbon emissions by 2050.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren described the test as “a real success for our partnership team”.
He went on: “We are committed to continuing to support this ground-breaking research because hydrogen offers great possibilities for a range of aircraft, including easyJet-sized aircraft.
“That will be a huge step forward in meeting the challenge of net zero by 2050.”
The only waste product from using hydrogen as a fuel is water.
Rolls-Royce chief technology officer Grazia Vittadini said: “The success of this hydrogen test is an exciting milestone.
“We only announced our partnership with easyJet in July and we are already off to an incredible start with this landmark achievement.
“We are pushing the boundaries to discover the zero carbon possibilities of hydrogen, which could help reshape the future of flight.”
Business Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The UK is leading the global shift to guilt-free flying and today’s test by Rolls-Royce and easyJet is an exciting demonstration of how business innovation can transform the way we live our lives.
“This is a true British success story, with the hydrogen being used to power the jet engine today produced using tidal and wind energy from the Orkney Islands of Scotland – and is a prime example of how we can work together to make aviation cleaner while driving jobs across the country.”
The partnership is planning further work before embarking on a ground test of a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 engine, which is a model used to power business jets.