H2Fly and Deutsche Aircraft announce hydrogen-powered 40-seat airliner
German clean aviation companies H2Fly and Deutsche Aircraft are joining forces to develop a hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered airliner capable of carrying 40 people, with a demonstration aircraft set to take its first flights in 2025.
Deutsche Aircraft has acquired a Dornier 328, and signed an MoU with H2Fly to work together on hydrogen fuel cell R&D with a view to getting zero-emissions powertrains into commercial regional aircraft – without the long recharging times, heavy weight and restricted range of lithium battery systems.
The standard Dornier 328 plane weighs 9,100 kg (20,062 lb), and runs twin Pratt & Whitney turboprop engines making a total of 1,625 kW (2,179 hp). In hydrogen-electric trim, the demonstrator plane will roll out a 1,500-kW (2,012-hp) fuel cell, which the companies say will make it the most powerful hydrogen aircraft ever. ZeroAvia, for comparison, is in the process of building its 19-seat HyFlyer II, with twin H2 powertrains delivering a total of 1,200 kW (1,609 hp).
A 40-seat commercial airliner, which H2Fly says it's aiming for by 2030, would run a peak power of 3 MW (4,024 hp), and offer a maximum range of 1,850 km (1,150 miles) at a cruise speed of 520 km/h (323 mph).
One of the key goals of this partnership is to work with European aviation authority EASA on defining the specific technical and certification requirements that will allow H2 powertrains to make their way into commercial flights.
H2Fly isn't coming out of nowhere on this project. This company has been spun off from the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics to operate and certify the HY4, the first hydrogen-powered four-seat aircraft.
Based on the super-efficient Pipistrel Taurus G4, a twin-fuselage electric aircraft that won NASA's Green Flight Challenge back in 2011, the HY4 runs a battery/fuel-cell hybrid powertrain that peaks at 80 kW (107 hp) and offers a continuous 45 kW (60 hp). It can fly from 750 to 1,500 km (466 to 932 miles) on a 21-kg (46-lb) tank of hydrogen, and it holds records for the first passenger hydrogen flight, and the longest hydrogen-powered flight to date.
H2Fly is also working on hydrogen powertrains for eVTOLs, six-19 seater aircraft and other projects. One to watch. Check out a video on the HY4 project below.