The world's first hydrogen-powered aircraft engine has been successfully operated by Britain's Rolls-Royce, demonstrating that the gas could be essential to decarbonizing aviation.

The ground test utilised green hydrogen produced by wind and tidal power and employed a modified Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A regional aviation engine, the British business announced on Monday.

Rolls is working to demonstrate that hydrogen can safely and effectively power civil aircraft engines with the help of testing programme partner easyJet.

With the longer-term goal of conducting flying testing, they claimed to have already begun organising a second round of tests.

One of the many competing technologies that might assist the aviation sector in achieving its objective of becoming net zero by 2050 is hydrogen.

Airbus and French-American engine manufacturer CFM International are collaborating to test hydrogen propulsion technology.

In February, it announced plans to install a specially modified version of a modern engine close to the tail of an A380 superjumbo test plane. However, the aircraft maker informed the European Union in 2021 that the majority of aeroplanes will continue to use conventional jet engines through at least 2050. The infrastructure at airports would need to be completely redesigned if engines fuelled by hydrogen were to be used.

The modifications in design are so significant, according to Eric Schulz, CEO of SHZ Consulting, that it would require more than one generation of aircraft to achieve them.

Other technologies supported by businesses like Rolls-Royce include sustainable aviation fuel and electric engines, which are initially appropriate for short flights (SAF).

SAF is currently generated in extremely low amounts, but it can be blended with conventional fuels in engines that are already in use.

It might eventually be generated by fusing green hydrogen with airborne carbon capture, but the method requires a lot of energy and is not yet widely available.