BERN, Switzerland, 20 April 2007. An unmanned hydrogen fuel cell-powered jet took to the skies over the hills of Bern, Switzerland. The Hyfish" performed vertical climbs, loops, and other aerial acrobatics at speeds reaching 200 km/h.
These first flights were the result of 1.5 years of cooperative development between the German Air & Space Center (DLR, or Deutsches Zentrum fuer Luft-und Raumfahrt) and a number of international partners, including Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies of Singapore, which provided the fuel cell that powered the flight of this next-generation unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Scientists at Stuttgart's DLR Institute for Technical Thermodynamics integrated Horizon's ultra-light and compact fuel cell system into an aircraft with a total weight of just 6 kg. The HyFish has a fuselage length of 1.2 meters and a short 1-meter wingspan. Unlike previous experiments with slower moving and lower power glider configurations, this is the first time a fast plane with jet wings was able to fly with a hydrogen fuel cell as its only power source.
The Hyfish hydrogen jet is the second small high-tech aircraft to fly with Horizon's fuel cells in less than one year. Its first fuel cell UAV development started in late 2005 with the NASA-sponsored Multidisciplinary Flight Dynamics Laboratory at California State University - Los Angeles, leading to a first successful flight in August 25, 2006.
Horizon plans to deliver fuel cells to at least another three prestigious UAV development programs this year.