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H2FLY announces major milestone in integrating hydrogen storage tank into test aircraft

H2FLY, the Stuttgart-based developer of hydrogen fuel cell technologies, has announced it has begun the integration of a liquid hydrogen storage system tank into its HY4 aircraft. The integration process commenced following the liquid hydrogen tank passing the vibration and LH2 leakage testing phase at Air Liquide in September.

According to a company press release:

“The announcement marks a significant step forward for Project HEAVEN – an initiative which has set out to design, develop, and integrate a powertrain based on high-power fuel cell and cryogenic technology, into an existing aircraft for testing in-flight operation. The start of the mechanical integration process draws H2FLY closer to achieving higher aircraft ranges, which is critical in the pursuit of achieving true zero-emissions medium and long-haul flight.

“H2FLY supplies the complete fuel cell system supporting the HY4 aircraft, along with the integration platform and the overall system architecture and controls of the fuel cell and hydrogen storage system. As the development lead, H2FLY plays a critical role in the complete coordination of the system implementation to guarantee each of the system parts is properly adapted, ensuring safe functionality.

“The company is joined by the following partners for the HEAVEN project: Air Liquide Advanced Technologies, a cryogenic tank designer and supplier, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, who will be supporting the integration and demonstration of the tank; DLR, who will support the operation and testing of high power fuel cell and system architecture.

“Integration work is expected to be completed over the coming months. Following the integration of the new hydrogen storage system and fuel cells, the aircraft is planned to enter a rigorous programme of ground testing early in 2023 and is expected to be the world’s first passenger aircraft to fly using liquid hydrogen.

Prof. Dr. Josef Kallo, co-founder and CEO of H2FLY says: “Passing the vibration and LH2- leakage tests marks a big step forward for delivering true zero-emissions flight with increased range – we have now been able to kickstart the mechanical integration process, drawing even closer to this next exciting flight test phase.

“For the past 10 years, at H2FLY we have been focused on developing and delivering new technology and now we look forward to completing the integration process so we can begin ground testing in preparation for the world’s first commercial liquid hydrogen-electric aircraft.”

“The HEAVEN project has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 826247. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and Spain, France, Germany, and Slovenia.

In 2020 H2FLY was granted a permit to fly the latest generation of the HY4 aircraft, which featured a fully redundant powertrain architecture. Across more than 90 take-offs, the company successfully demonstrated the applicability of hydrogen-electric propulsion solutions in aviation

In 2021 the company signed a strategic partnership with aircraft manufacturer Deutsche Aircraft that will see the companies work together to fly a CS25 class aircraft powered by H2FLY’s hydrogen fuel cell technology. The climate-neutral regional aircraft, which is expected to fly for the first time as a prototype in 2025, is planned to have a 2,000 km range and seat up to 40 passengers

Earlier this year, the company completed a cross-country flight, from Stuttgart, Germany to Friedrichshafen, covering 77 miles, marking the first time a hydrogen-powered passenger plane has flown between two commercial airports

According to the company, in just a few years, hydrogen-electric aircraft are expected to be able to transport 40 passengers over distances of up to 2,000 kilometres (1,240 miles).

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