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Liepāja plans to produce hydrogen-powered aircraft

Liepaja Airport will in future produce and test hydrogen-powered Fokker Next Gen aircraft, employing around 800 people. The company has already reached an agreement with the Liepaja Special Economic Zone Authority. The company also plans to set up a hydrogen aircraft engineering center in Latvia, TV Kurzeme reports April 25.

Fokker Next Gen aircraft are currently manufactured in the Netherlands. Liepāja was chosen for its good geographical location, port, and airport without heavy air traffic, and for its large industrial areas.

Another reason is Liepāja's plan to produce hydrogen, which will be useful for testing hydrogen aircraft engines for Fokker Next Gen, said the company's CEO, Juriaan Kellerman:

"Europe wants to produce green energy, including hydrogen. We don't want to be dependent on other countries and this has also given a boost to the green energy technology business in Europe."

Fokker Next Gen intends to develop a hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft model with a capacity of between 120 and 150 passengers. This type of aircraft could provisionally reach destinations up to 2,500 kilometers away.

Agris Sprūde, Member of the Board of Liepāja Airlines (Aviosabiedrība Liepāja) agreed that the environment in Liepāja was very suitable for the company:

"Fokker would be well suited to the space here - close to the airport access road and therefore directly connected to the platform. When the aircraft rolls out of the factory, it is tested many times to make sure that everything is in perfect order. The customer comes in, looks at which aircraft they want, and it goes to the customer, wherever they are - whether in the UAE or the US or wherever."

The airport site now needs to be surveyed and the available power lines increased. The plant itself is planned to be built in 2030. 

The company's CEO confirmed that the construction of the factory will take a long time: "It will take a long time to build an aircraft factory. It will take a few billion [euros] and that is a lot of money. There will be about 800 full-time workers in Liepaja. But first, we need to build a hydrogen aircraft engineering center in Rīga. We are ready to start."

The company has already signed a memorandum of cooperation with Riga Technical University to set up new education programs in Latvia to train the specialists it needs. Fokker and other Dutch companies have also visited Liepāja Airport this week to look at areas available for investment.

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