H2FLY, a Stuttgart-based developer of hydrogen fuel cell technologies for aircraft, says it set a world record last week for hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft when its demonstrator aircraft, the HY4 flew at an altitude of 7,230 feet.
The company also said it successfully completed a flight between Stuttgart and Friedrichshafen on April 12. This feat marks the first time a hydrogen-electric passenger aircraft has been piloted between two major airports.
“This is a remarkable achievement for H2FLY, as no other hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft has flown between two commercial airports to date,” Professor Dr. Josef Kallo, co-founder and CEO of H2FLY said in a statement. “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.”
The announcement is the latest development in the aviation industry’s attempts to explore the possibilities of zero-emission, hydrogen-powered flight. Airbus is planning to experiment with a hydrogen-fuel turbine engine, while other companies—such as H2FLY—are using hydrogen fuel cells.
Hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity without combustion or emissions, similar to conventional batteries. However, unlike car batteries, they don’t run down or need to be recharged as long as they’re fed hydrogen and oxygen.
The flight to Friedrichshafen was completed to participate in the upcoming AERO Friedrichshafen airshow on April 27. At the event, the HY4 will be open to the public for viewing for the first time. Prior to the airshow, the HY4 had been tested exclusively in and around Stuttgart Airport, which is a long-term partner of H2FLY.
“We are delighted that HY4 has achieved this next technical milestone,” said Walter Schoefer, speaker of the board for the airport. “This is another step on the long road of the aviation transformation process towards a more climate-friendly air transport.
“We see hydrogen-electric engines as the key to zero-emission flying and have therefore been promoting the HY4 project for many years,” he said. “As a ‘fairport’, we want to continue to be a pioneer and enabler for the next steps when it comes to sustainability.”
However, developing the necessary infrastructure to create a truly green and sustainable hydrogen ecosystem will be challenging, say experts.
About the Aircraft
H2FLY’s four-seat HY4 aircraft is being used as a test platform for further development of hydrogen propulsion systems. The company hopes that this development will help lay a foundation for a hydrogen-electric-powered, 40-seat Dornier 328, which H2FLY says will be developed jointly with Deutsche Aircraft by 2025.