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Universal Hydrogen kicks off flight test campaign for its hydrogen regional aircraft

Universal Hydrogen says it has hosted a kickoff event for a flight test and maturation campaign for its regional products. It says the “campaign comes on the heels of a successful March 2023 first flight of the world’s largest hydrogen fuel cell-powered airplane and the largest airplane ever to cruise principally on hydrogen”. The first flight the company says was followed by a successful June 2023 ferry of the aircraft from Moses Lake, Wash. to Mojave, Calif., which also included several “firsts” and demonstrated an expanded operating envelope for the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain. Universal Hydrogen says that it has now achieved 10 test flights as it marches towards its goal of commercial entry into service in 2026.

“The kickoff flight lasted approximately 20 minutes during which the flaps and landing gear were retracted and the aircraft reached 5,000 feet MSL before returning for several passes over the airport with the conventional engine throttled back and the hydrogen powertrain at full power to measure noise level reduction that fuel cell-electric propulsion is expected to deliver” according to the press release. “The hydrogen fuel cell powertrain was operated at maximum power during takeoff and operated throughout the flight.

“The flight marks the beginning of a two-year flight test campaign that will first continue to optimise the performance of the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain including the introduction of new hardware, including a new custom-developed, aviation-grade turbocompressor that will allow flights up to 25,000 feet MSL, the operating ceiling of the Dash 8. Second, the test program will introduce Universal Hydrogen’s patented modular liquid hydrogen fuel storage system. And finally, it will commence certification testing to prove that the production configuration of the aircraft meets all of the FAA-mandated airworthiness and safety requirements. The company reached a major milestone recently with the issuance by the FAA of the G-1 issue paper, which—in an important “first” for the aviation industry—details the certification basis for hydrogen-powered commercial passenger aircraft.”

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(Image: Universal Hydrogen)

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