Aircraft

Hydrogen-electric HY4 passenger aircraft sets altitude record

Hydrogen-electric HY4 passenge...
The HY4 in flight
The HY4 in flight
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The HY4 is powered by a hydrogen-electric fuel cell system
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The HY4 is powered by a hydrogen-electric fuel cell system
The HY4 in flight
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The HY4 in flight

Stuttgart-based German aerospace company H2FLY has claimed a new world record for its four-seater HY4, which became the first hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft to reach an altitude above 7,000 ft (2,134 m) on April 13. In addition, the HY4 made the first flight by a hydrogen-powered passenger craft from one major airport to another, traveling 77 miles (124 km) from Stuttgart to Friedrichshafen on April 12.

First taking to the air in 2016, the HY4 with its distinctive twin-fuselage design is based on the Pipistrel Taurus G4 aircraft. However, where the G4 is an all-electric aircraft, the HY4 is a hybrid design powered by a low-temperature hydrogen fuel cell system developed by the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics (DLR) in association with Hydrogenics.

To save weight, the hydrogen is stored under a pressure beneath 5,800 psi in two carbon composite tanks, one in each fuselage. These feed into the fuel cell, while lithium-ion batteries provide a power boost during moments of peak demand by the 80-kW electric motor. The aircraft has a cruising speed of 90 mph (145 km/h) and a projected range of up to 900 miles (1,500 km) under minimum payload and optimum flight conditions.

The HY4 is powered by a hydrogen-electric fuel cell system
The HY4 is powered by a hydrogen-electric fuel cell system

"This is a remarkable achievement for H2FLY, as no other hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft has flown between two commercial airports to date," said Dr. Josef Kallo, co-founder and CEO of H2FLY. "We are also thrilled to have set what we believe to be a new world record by reaching an altitude of over 7,000 feet with our HY4 aircraft. We want to thank our long-time partners Stuttgart Airport, University of Ulm, DLR Stuttgart, Friedrichshafen Airport, and AERO Friedrichshafen, for supporting us in our mission to make sustainable travel a reality."

Looking to usher in an era of emission-free, sustainable air travel, H2FLY expects to be flying hydrogen-electric aircraft carrying up to 40 passengers distances of up to 1,240 miles (2,000 km) in "just a few years."

Source: H2FLY (pdf)

6 comments
6 comments
martinwinlow
Well, if you are going to spend a fortune and dedicate all that talent and effort to using H2 as an alternative 'fuel' to fossil fuels for transport after so many other very well-funded companies have failed (the latest being Sweden's Scania), I guess it makes most sense to try it in the air.

Unfortunately, I suspect the rate at which battery technology is moving, battery-electric aircraft will get 'there' first. Eviation's Alice is already talking about 500m range with 9 pax - although they have been saying the first flights is only weeks away for the last 6 months or more.

Bring back zeppelins is what I say... electric ones.
FB36
It is extremely bad idea to use hydrogen as fuel for land/sea/air transportation because it is pretty much explosive!
Imagine a future world w/ all kinds of hydrogen vehicles, tanker trucks, gas stations everywhere!
Are we seriously thinking that there will be never any accidents/leaks/ruptures/mishandling to trigger massive explosions?

Not to mention, there is actually no need at all to use hydrogen as fuel!
All light/small vehicles are already becoming fully electric & all heavy/big land/sea/air vehicles just need us to start producing biodiesel/biofuel at large scales!
(From all possible industrial/agricultural/forestry waste/biomass & trash & sewage!)
Zola
It is ignorant to simply say that hydrogen is explosive. It is a safer fuel than gasoline in that if it leaks, it simply dissipates in the atmosphere If it is ignited, it burns without exploding unless mixed with oxygen and confined. The Hindenburg did not explode, it burned.
-dphiBbydt
Somewhat disingenuous to say such a craft is emissions-free in flight. Water vapor is every bit a greenhouse gas as CO2 or CH4.
Niclas
martinwinlow: Scania didn’t Fail H2, they still develop H2 vehicles, but decided to also develop BEV and other hybrid vehicles.
Katerina Cokonis
Green hydrogen needs to be produced and distributed adequately before it becomes useful for all transports. Hydrogen is however the best option for the future either used directly or in combination with biofuels and synthetic fuels.