The Stuttgart, Germany-based developer of hydrogen fuel and sustainable technologies for aviation, H2FLY has successfully completed the world’s first piloted flight of a liquid hydrogen-powered electric aircraft. The company conducted a series of test campaign flights to achieve the feat.
The flights were performed by H2FLY’s HY4 demonstrator aircraft, a piloted plane equipped with a hydrogen-electric fuel cell propulsion system.
Calling the successful flight a watershed moment, the company said it lays the foundation for long-range sustainable flights powered by liquid hydrogen. H2FLY has completed four test flights with the HY4 near Maribor, Slovenia, with one reportedly lasting longer than three hours. Following the test flight campaign, the team found that the usage of liquid hydrogen instead of gaseous hydrogen doubled the maximum range of the HY4 to approximately 932 miles (1,500 km) from approximately 435 miles (700 km). The feat marks a critical step towards emissions-free, medium to long-haul commercial flights, said the company.
The flight test campaign was the culmination of Project HEAVEN, a consortium assembled to demonstrate the feasibility of using liquid cryogenic hydrogen (LH2) to power aircraft. LH2 allows for lower tank weights and volume at a significant level in comparison to pressurised gaseous hydrogen (GH2), leading to an extended range for aircraft and a useful payload.