Germany-based startup Deutsche Aircraft is to partner with hydrogen fuel cell developer H2FLY to develop and test a hydrogen fuel cell commercial regional aircraft.
The two companies have signed a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) to convert a Dornier 328 aircraft for hydrogen flight, with the first test flight of the aircraft planned for 2025. The R&D program aims to validate the potential for hydrogen to deliver climate neutral regional air travel in aircraft of up to 40 seats.
H2FLY follows an R&D project called HY4 which was led by German research agency DLR, and involve the companies Hydrogenics, Pipistrel, H2FLY, the University of Ulm and Stuttgart Airport. HY4 saw a four-seater hydrogen fuel cell-powered passenger aircraft make its first 15 minute demonstration flight above Stuttgart in 2016.
The HY4 aircraft was then successfully used in several flight campaigns and made over 70 take-offs while targeting a range of up to 750km (465 miles) for regional markets.
Engineers on the project plan to equip the Dornier 238 demonstrator aircraft with a 1.5MW hydrogen fuel cell system, which would make it the most powerful hydrogen-electric-powered aircraft developed to date. They will also integrate the power system into the aircraft and define the technical and certification requirements for fuel cell systems in EASA’s large aircraft class (“CS25”).
Josef Kallo, co-founder and CEO of H2FLY said, “Over the last 16 years we have worked hard to demonstrate our technology on smaller aircraft, completing record breaking flights over six powertrain generations. Today we’re pleased to be taking that to the next level with Deutsche Aircraft as we scale our efforts up to regional aircraft.”
Martin Nüßeler, CTO at Deutsche Aircraft said, “Deutsche Aircraft is convinced that the higher propulsive efficiency of propeller powered aircraft will drive a change in propulsion technology and result in reducing fuel consumption and emissions even further in the future. Combining modern propeller aircraft design with zero carbon energy sources is central to achieving climate-neutral air transportation. “
“The partnership with H2FLY will move us forward on the path to applying hydrogen fuel cells in larger aircraft.”