By Scott Hamilton
March 6, 2023, © Leeham News: Universal Hydrogen (UH2) last week took off with its demonstrator aircraft for what it believes is the beginning of a new era.
The Dash 8-300 took off from the Moses Lakes (WA) airport at 8:41 am on March 2 for a short flight circling the former US Air Force Base, now called Grant County International Airport. On one circle, the test pilots throttled back the Jet A-fueled Pratt & Whitney PW123 engine, flying on the No. 2 electric motor, powered by hydrogen fuel.
Thus, UH2’s Dash 8 became the second largest plane (after the Soviet-era Tu-155) to fly on hydrogen and the first to fly solely on clean energy given that the No. 1 engine was at idle.
LNA previously reported details of UH2’s airplane plans.
How UH2 moves forward is detailed below.
By Bryan Corliss
Jan. 9, 2023, © Leeham News: Turboprops should be having a moment, given all the concern about how the aviation industry is contributing to climate change. Want to cut your fuel burn by 45%? Just retire your fleet of 70-seat regional jets and replace them with turboprops.
Yet even with concerns over the environmental (and monetary) costs of operating regional jets, there hasn’t been a big move toward turboprops. In December, Embraer announced it was putting the development of a 70-to-90-seat turboprop on hold. The reason: Suppliers can’t provide it with components (meaning engines) that will provide enough of a performance increase to make a new plane worthwhile.
Meanwhile, the orphaned De Havilland Dash-8 – now owned by a rebranded De Havilland Aircraft Canada – has been out of production since mid-2021.
That leaves the Franco-Italian consortium of ATR as the only OEM likely to deliver any turboprops to airlines in 2023, 2024 – maybe even beyond.
That could change by the end of the decade, however. Embraer is working on a hybrid-electric aircraft that could be ready as soon as 2030 in 19- and 30-seat versions. And a rebranded De Havilland Canada is taking steps to restart production of the Dash-8 at a new factory site in Alberta.
By Scott Hamilton and Bjorn Fehrm
Dec. 15, 2022, © Leeham News: Universal Hydrogen (UH2) is perhaps weeks away from its first flight of a demonstrator that equips a De Havilland Canada Dash 8-300 with tanks of hydrogen and a fuel cell electric propulsion unit. The project shall prove the feasibility of hydrogen-fueled airliners.
The first flight’s date hasn’t been firmly set, but officials at UH2 told LNA it should be soon. Taxi tests of the aircraft will begin in the coming weeks. The flight will occur at Moses Lake in Central Washington State.
Universal Hydrogen supplies its hydrogen to the aircraft in prefilled barrel-sized tanks, called capsules, to avoid the lengthy and costly investment in storing and filling infrastructure at airports. The proof of concept is with a Dash 8, followed by a complete hydrogen conversion kit for an ATR-72 turboprop airliner.
By Bjorn Fehrm
November 29, 2022, © Leeham News: MTU and Pratt & Whitney presented an EU Clean Sky project today where they will develop an advanced engine concept based on the Pratt & Whitney GTF. The project is called SWITCH, an acronym for Sustainable Water-Injecting Turbofan Comprising Hybrid-Electrics.
There are participants from 11 countries in the project, among them Pratt & Whitney’s sister company Collins aerospace, GKN’s Swedish part, and Airbus.
The engine, which has a mild parallel hybrid architecture, extracts more energy from the turbofan fuel by driving the core exhaust through a vaporizer, where it recovers more heat from the core exhaust, Figure 1. Water from the exhaust, extracted from the core exhaust in a condenser, is heated to steam by the vaporizer and then drives a steam turbine that co-drives the fan. The steam is finally injected into the combustor to lower emissions.
The WET cycle will gain about 10% efficiency compared to today’s GTF. The concept also has a hybrid part which is primarily used for a low-emission taxi.
By Scott Hamilton
July 18, 2022 (BST), © Leeham News: Pratt & Whitney and sister company Collins Aerospace announced the launch of a hybrid-electric technology demonstrator, it was announced today at the Farnborough Air Show. This program is for future advanced air mobility vehicles.
Collins and Pratt & Whitney Canada, the turboprop engine unit, also announced the completion of the preliminary design of a 1MW motor for the demonstrator. A De Havilland Canada Dash 8-100 will be the platform for the commercial hybrid-electric application.
June 10, 2022, ©. Leeham News: This is a complementary article to Part 23, Fuel Cell-based 70-seat airliner. It analyses the masses and efficiencies of a 70-seat airliner equipped with the fuel cell-based propulsion systems we analyzed last week.
March 25, 2022, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we looked at the energy density by mass and volume for hydrogen and regular Jet fuel (Kerosene), Figure 1.
With this information, we now look at how these fuels can be stored in an aircraft.
March 4, 2022, ©. Leeham News: This is a summary of the article Part 9P. Parallel Hybrid, the Deeper Discussion.
We look into the Pratt & Whitney, Collins Aerospace, and De Havilland project to create a Parallel Hybrid propulsion alternative for the Dash 8 turboprops.
The project “targets a 30% reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions, compared to a modern regional turboprop airliner” according to the Pratt & Whitney press release.
March 4, 2022, ©. Leeham News: This is a complementary article to Part 9. Parallel Hybrid. It uses Leeham Company’s Aircraft Performance Model from our consultancy practice to analyze the design of a Parallel Hybrid aircraft for regional operations.
Our design brief is to make turboprop upgrade packages for De Havilland DH8-200,-300, and-400 aircraft. By using a Parallel Hybrid we could “target a 30% reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions, compared to a modern regional turboprop airliner” according to Pratt & Whitney Canada. Time to check if we can reach these levels.
By Scott Hamilton and Bjorn Fehrm
Jan. 31, 2022, © Leeham News: ATR is now effectively the only turboprop manufacturer outside of China and Russia in the 40-80 seat sector. The models are the ATR 42-600, ATR 42-600S (STOL), and ATR 72-600.
The series was built on simplicity with unpowered controls and the simplest possible systems. It has worked well for ATR when selling to markets that want airlift to the lowest possible cost. It also means the design is at its limits capacity and speed-wise, any more capacity or performance and it needs powered controls and more elaborate systems. It was behind ATR’s desire to develop a new, larger model in the past.
But ATR has little reason to develop a new turboprop now that it is in a monopoly position. This could change if Embraer proceeds with its concept for a new family of two turboprops, a 70- and a 90-seat aircraft. Embraer’s base design could form the basis of a hydrogen-burning gas turbine model in the future.