A testing centre for hydrogen aircraft is being set up at AeroTEC’s site in Moses Lake, Washington and will handle the certification of Universal Hydrogen’s conversion of a Dash-8 regional turboprop to run off a hydrogen fuel cell by 2026.
Universal Hydrogen is developing a conversion kit to retrofit existing regional airplanes with a hydrogen-electric powertrain, It is also developing modular capsules which the kit is compatible with, which will be used to transport hydrogen from green production sites to airports.
The conversion kit is using technology from electrical motor company magniX and hydrogen fuel cell developer Plug Power.
AeroTEC’s Moses Lake facility at Grant County International Airport has recently handled the development and test flight program for a battery-powered 9-passenger Cessna 208B “eCaravan,” also powered by a magniX EPU (electric propulsion unit).
The modified Dash-8 is scheduled for entry into commercial service during 2025.
Letters of intent have been signed from companies including Ravn Alaska, Icelandair, and Spain’s Air Nostrum and Universal Hydrogen to convert their existing and future fleets to a hydrogen powertrain and to supply hydrogen fuel.
AeroTEC is leading the aircraft conversion, flight test, and certification activities and will draw on its experience with electric aviation. Conversion work for US-based airlines, flight test and continuing airworthiness support will be based in AeroTEC’s Moses Lake facility.
According to Universal Hydrogen its Dash-8 conversion will be the first commercially-relevant hydrogen-powered aircraft and be able to fly 41 to 60 passengers on routes of up to 1,000km. The hydrogen capsules will be transported using the existing freight network and on-airport cargo handling equipment.
“We’re excited to have been selected by Universal Hydrogen as a trusted development partner,” said AeroTEC founder and CEO, Lee Human. “This program will leverage AeroTEC’s aircraft integration expertise and modification facilities in Moses Lake, and will not only bring an exciting new set of flight tests to the region, but also a long-term aircraft conversion and continued airworthiness program.”
“The decarbonization of aviation through hydrogen is critical for a zero-carbon economy,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. “From its days as a World War II air training center to a center today for alternative fuel development and flight testing, Moses Lake, Washington has led the way in aviation, energy, and innovation. With our team in Spokane, we are proud to be a part of this landmark Hydrogen Aviation Center.”
“We are collaborating with these amazing partners to propel the future of aviation,” said magniX CEO, Roei Ganzarski. “Zero emissions aviation is no longer a dream—together we are making it a reality.”
“Moses Lake and Washington State are the perfect location for us to base this center,” said Paul Eremenko, Universal Hydrogen co-founder and CEO. “The tremendous aerospace and cleantech workforce, our incredible partners here, abundant renewable electricity for green hydrogen production, and the support of local and state governments is unparalleled.”