- H2FLY successfully completed the world’s first piloted flight of a liquid hydrogen-powered electric aircraft.
- The use of liquid hydrogen reportedly doubles the maximum range of the aircraft.
- H2FLY’s achievement is influencing technology for other aircraft and solutions in commercial aviation.
H2FLY, the developer of hydrogen fuel and sustainable technologies for aviation, reached a milestone recently, successfully completing the world’s first piloted flight of a liquid hydrogen-powered electric aircraft. The flight was part of a series of test campaign flights conducted by the Stuttgart, Germany-based company.
The flights were performed by the developer’s HY4 demonstrator aircraft, a piloted plane equipped with a hydrogen-electric fuel cell propulsion system. The company said the flight lays the foundation for long-range sustainable flights powered by liquid hydrogen.
“A watershed moment”
Professor Josef Kallo, a Co-founder of H2FLY, spoke about the company’s accomplishment on Thursday.
“This achievement marks a watershed moment in the use of hydrogen to power aircraft. Together with our partners, we have demonstrated the viability of liquid hydrogen to support medium and long-range emissions-free flight.”
H2FLY has completed four test flights with the HY4 near Maribor, Slovenia, including one that reportedly lasted longer than three hours. Following the test flight campaign, the team found that the usage of liquid hydrogen instead of gaseous hydrogen doubles the maximum range of the HY4 to approximately 932 miles (1,500 km) from approximately 435 miles (700 km). The findings mark a critical step toward the reality of emissions-free, medium to long-haul commercial flights, according to the company.
Liquified cryogenic hydrogen (LH2) allows for lower tank weights and volume at a significant level compared to pressurized gaseous hydrogen (GH2), leading to an extended range for aircraft and a useful payload. Kallo mentioned how the recent development is influencing technology for other aircraft.
“We are now looking ahead to scaling up our technology for regional aircraft and other applications, beginning the critical mission of decarbonizing commercial aviation,” the Co-founder added.
A funded partnership
According to the company, the flight test campaign is the culmination of Project HEAVEN, a consortium assembled to demonstrate the feasibility of using liquid cryogenic hydrogen to power aircraft. H2FLY reportedly leads the group and partners with Air Liquide, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, the German Aerospace Center, EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies, and Fundación Ayesa.
Pierre Crespi, Innovation Director at Air Liquide Advanced Technologies, spoke about the company’s partnership with H2FLY.
“Air Liquide is proud to have designed, manufactured and integrated, together with H2FLY, the liquid hydrogen tank that enabled to power the HY4 aircraft. Today’s success demonstrates the full potential of liquid hydrogen for aviation. Liquid hydrogen can be stored onboard and transported. Hydrogen is key to the energy transition and this new step proves that it’s already becoming a reality.”
Supported by the European government, Project HEAVEN is also funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, the German Federal Ministry for Digital Transport, and The University of Ulm, according to H2FLY.
Moving past challenges
H2FLY was established in 2014 and has encountered some hurdles along the way. According to Kallo, who spoke to We Are FINN last month, the company encountered component development issues.
“So, in this case, we had to do a lot of development on our own, so we also do component development,” the Co-founder explained. “Now we see major interest from other companies, and that accelerates the development of components, so we are able to integrate much faster.
Next on the agenda, H2FLY will work toward commercialization. In June, the company announced the next generation of high-altitude fuel cell systems, reportedly providing aircraft with full power range at altitudes of up to 27,000 feet.
The company will also open its Hydrogen Aviation Center at Stuttgart Airport next year, which it says will be a focal point of the future of aviation in Europe.
Source: We Are Finn