Common Hydrogen Co. flew a 40-passenger regional airliner utilizing hydrogen gasoline cell propulsion.
The airplane, nicknamed Lightning McClean, took off at 8:41am PST from Grant County Worldwide Airport (KMWH) and flew for quarter-hour, reaching an altitude of three,500 MSL. The flight, performed beneath an FAA Particular Airworthiness Certificates, was the primary in a two-year flight take a look at marketing campaign anticipated to culminate in 2025 with entry into passenger service of ATR 72 regional plane transformed to run on hydrogen. Representatives from Join Airways and Amelia, the U.S. and European launch prospects for the hydrogen airplanes, respectively, have been readily available to witness the historic flight. The corporate has a quickly rising order e book, as we speak totaling 247 plane conversions from 16 prospects worldwide, totaling over $1 billion in conversions backlog and over $2 billion in gasoline companies over the primary ten years of operation.
“Right now will go down within the historical past books because the true begin to the decarbonization of the worldwide airline trade and we at Join Airways are extraordinarily happy with the position that we, as the primary US operator, will play in main the way in which with Common Hydrogen,” mentioned John Thomas, CEO of Join Airways. Join, which can start regional turboprop service this spring, has positioned a first-position US order with Common Hydrogen to transform 75 ATR 72-600 regional airplanes to hydrogen powertrains with buy rights for 25 further plane conversions. Deliveries will begin in 2025. “Now we have dedicated to being North America’s first zero-emission airline and this historic flight, taking hydrogen, which could be made with nothing however sunshine and emitting solely water, is a key milestone on our journey,” continued Thomas.
“With this expertise, and the advance of presidency optimistic rules I’m assured that we are able to flip the tide of public sentiment and as soon as once more make aviation a shining beacon of technological optimism,” added Alain Regourd, President of Amelia.
On this first take a look at flight, one of many airplane’s turbine engines was changed with Common Hydrogen’s gasoline cell-electric, megawatt-class powertrain. The opposite remained a traditional engine for security of flight. The flight was piloted by Alex Kroll, an skilled former U.S. Air Pressure take a look at pilot and the corporate’s chief take a look at pilot. “Throughout the second circuit over the airport, we have been snug with the efficiency of the hydrogen powertrain, so we have been in a position to throttle again the fossil gasoline turbine engine to exhibit cruise principally on hydrogen energy,” mentioned Kroll. “The airplane dealt with superbly, and the noise and vibrations from the gasoline cell powertrain are considerably decrease than from the traditional turbine engine.”
The corporate’s powertrain is constructed round Plug Energy’s ProGen household of gasoline cells specifically modified for aviation use. One of many distinctive features of the design is that the powertrain doesn’t use a battery—the gasoline cells drive the electrical motor straight—drastically lowering weight and price. The motor, a modified magni650 electrical propulsion unit, and energy electronics have been equipped by Everett-based magniX. Seattle-based AeroTEC assisted with engineering efforts, together with design of the modified nacelle construction, plane methods design and integration, in addition to plane modifications and set up of the Common Hydrogen powertrain onto the flight take a look at plane, achieved in lower than 12 months.
The take a look at flight comes on the again of profitable demonstrations in December 2022 of Common Hydrogen’s modular hydrogen logistics system performed on the firm’s engineering heart in Toulouse, France. “Our enterprise mannequin resolves the chicken-and-egg drawback between hydrogen airplanes and hydrogen infrastructure by growing each in parallel and with a uniquely low-cost method,” mentioned Paul Eremenko, co-founder and CEO of Common Hydrogen. “The airplanes are transformed to hydrogen utilizing an aftermarket retrofit conversion equipment, tackling the prevailing fleet quite than growing a model new airplane. And hydrogen fueling makes use of modular capsules appropriate with present freight networks and airport cargo dealing with tools, making each airport on the earth hydrogen-ready.”
The corporate, backed by GE Aviation, Airbus Ventures, Toyota Ventures, JetBlue Ventures, and American Airways, in addition to a number of of the world’s largest inexperienced hydrogen producers and top-tier monetary traders, plans to springboard from regional airplanes to bigger ones and to hydrogen gasoline deliveries for different mobility functions utilizing its modular logistics community. “Greater than half of aviation CO2 emissions as we speak come from the A320 and 737 household of plane,” mentioned Eremenko. “Each Airbus and Boeing might want to substitute these venerable airplanes with a brand new design beginning improvement within the late-2020s and coming into passenger service within the mid-2030s. Making their successors hydrogen airplanes is a golden alternative—maybe the one alternative—for aviation to get wherever close to assembly Paris Settlement emissions targets with out having to curb aviation visitors volumes.”
The hydrogen-powered airplane is not only a revolutionary new product; it’s a image of hope and progress, a beacon of sunshine in a world that desperately wants it. Right now marks a brand new chapter within the historical past of aviation and the struggle towards local weather change. Common Hydrogen is main the cost, and the world is taking discover.