Successful test flight of hydrogen-powered plane gives sustainable aviation a lift

March 15, 2023
The adapted ATR 72 aircraft can usually accommodate 50 passengers but the large liquid-hydrogen tank reduces the sitting capacity down to about 40, Roselyne Min reports for Euro News.

MOSES LAKE, Wash., - We might soon be travelling on aircraft that cruise through the skies on hydrogen instead of fossil fuels. That’s the hope of Los Angeles-based startup Universal Hydrogen which has turned a turboprop-powered regional airliner into a hydrogen plane, Roselyne Min reports for Euro NewsContinue reading original article.

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

15 March 2023 - The airplane, nicknamed Lightning McClean, took off at 8:41am PST from Grant County International Airport (KMWH) and flew for 15 minutes, reaching an altitude of 3,500 MSL. The flight, conducted under an FAA Special Airworthiness Certificate, was the first in a two-year flight test campaign expected to culminate in 2025 with entry into passenger service of ATR 72 regional aircraft converted to run on hydrogen. Representatives from Connect Airlines and Amelia, the US and European launch customers for the hydrogen airplanes, respectively, were on hand to witness the flight.

The company’s powertrain is built around Plug Power’s ProGen family of fuel cells specially modified for aviation use. One of the unique aspects of the design is that the powertrain does not use a battery—the fuel cells drive the electric motor directly—drastically reducing weight and cost. The motor, a modified magni650 electric propulsion unit, and power electronics were supplied by Everett-based magniX. Seattle-based AeroTEC assisted with engineering efforts, including design of the modified nacelle structure, aircraft systems design and integration, as well as aircraft modifications and installation of the Universal Hydrogen powertrain onto the flight test aircraft, accomplished in less than 12 months.

Related: A Dash-8 commuter plane flew for 15 minutes with a hydrogen fuel-cell engine

Related: FAA grants Universal Hydrogen experimental airworthiness certificate

Related: Hydrogen-based aviation takes off

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Military + Aerospace Electronics

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