By Scott Hamilton
Feb. 27, 2023, © Leeham News: Universal Hydrogen (UH2) is just days away from the first flight of its hydrogen tank concept in a converted De Havilland Canada Dash 8-300.
The flight will be from the Grant County International Airport at Moses Lake in Central Washington State. As such, weather—which is often unpredictable here—could upset plans. So far, the forecast is favorable if cold.
UH2’s conversion removes seats from the aft portion of the passenger cabin to make way for two large tanks to install through a main deck cargo-size door cut into the fuselage. A similar approach is underway in France with an ATR-72.
The liquid hydrogen (LH2) containers are trucked from the refueling source and loaded onto the planes. Then, when near empty, these are swapped for refueling with other tanks filled with hydrogen for the next flight.
This concept solves the hydrogen supply problem at any airport. The ATR-72 capacity goes from 72 passengers to 56, a reduction of 28%. This dramatic reduction in revenue seats calls for a reset of cost and revenue per available seat mile, but for a first entry into the hydrogen field, it’s an important step in the quest for clean aviation. LNA believes that UH2 has the most viable hydrogen concept of all at the moment because the company addresses the hydrogen supply problem without the billions of dollars needed for airport infrastructure and pipelines.
Moses Lake is the same airport used by Eviation for the first flight last year of its Alice electric aircraft. Its CEO, Gregory Davis, outlined the Alice concept at this month’s annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA).