Universal Hydrogen could be first with Hydrogen Airliner

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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.

Figure 1. Hydrogen tank pallets are loaded onto an ATR 72 by standard cargo loaders. Source: Universal Hydrogen.

Summary:
  • The core business of Universal Hydrogen is the prefilled hydrogen tanks that load onto the aircraft in pallets.
  • Universal Hydrogen builds the complete hydrogen fuel and propulsion system to prove and bootstrap the concept of hydrogen airliners.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 49. eVTOL production costs.

By Bjorn Fehrm

December 9, 2022, ©. Leeham News: This is a summary of the article Part 49P, eVTOL production costs. It discusses the production costs of our typical eVTOL (Figure 1) and its drain on the OEM’s finances.

New aircraft projects chronically underestimate the production cost of their certified products. One factor is the effect of the learning curves on the cost items.

 

Figure 1. The Vertical Aerospace VX4 in an early rendering with similar looks to the eVTOL we discuss. Source: Vertical Aerospace.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 49P. eVTOL production costs. The deeper discussion.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

December 9, 2022, ©. Leeham News: This is a complementary article to Part 49, eVTOL production costs. It discusses the typical production costs of a certified eVTOL when produced in large quantities.

eVTOLs will be produced under aeronautical production certification conditions, using aeronautical grade material and system. Our production cost model predicts such costs, including learning curve effects for each material type.

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Airbus Summit Showcases Sustainability Status

By Bjorn Fehrm

December 7, 2022, © Leeham News was at Airbus Summit: Airbus briefed media and influences on its Sustainability progress during briefings in Toulouse and Munich last week. Here is an update on where Airbus is with its programs.

The overall impression is of tangible progress on techno brick research and development and echo systems programs like SAF production and hydrogen supply and ground infrastructure.

At the summit, key customers like Airlines, technology partners, and leasing companies were part of the panels, giving the customer perspective and the view of the passengers.

Figure 1. The test setup of the Airbus fuel cell turboprop engine on its A380 test aircraft. Source: Airbus.

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Green aviation pressure applied to banks, oil companies, too

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By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 1, 2022, © Leeham News: Pressure from environmentalists is prompting the aviation industry to move toward sustainable fuels.

But the pressure is not just on aviation. It’s also on bankers who finance airplanes and aerospace companies. These firms must show their shareholders, stakeholders and special interest groups that they are taking sustainability into account as they finance their customers.

The pressure is on oil companies, though many believe Big Oil isn’t really interested in cutting back its core business in favor of alternative energy.

In an interview with LNA, Chris Raymond, the chief sustainability officer for The Boeing Co., is frank about the challenges of meeting commercial aviation’s goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But he’s optimistic that the industry is on the right path.

It’s a path that’s been promoted before, with little success. In the first decade of the 21st century, the industry talked big but little activity occurred. In 2011, Jim Albaugh, then the CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, predicted that 10% of fuel by 2020 would be Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The reality was that SAF accounted for 0.001% of the fuel.

Credit: Boeing.

Today, there are demonstration flights, including passenger-carrying flights, that used 50% SAF.

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MTU gets support from Pratt & Whitney to develop the WET engine

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.

Figure 1. The architecture of the SWITCH engine. Source: SWITCH.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 47. eVTOL traffic

By Bjorn Fehrm

November 25, 2022, ©. Leeham News: We have gone through the flight principles for different eVTOLs, the critical systems such as battery systems and flight controls, their energy consumption/performance, and how green they are compared to other ways of getting to an airport.

This is all about the flying vehicle. But it’s only part of the system needed for this transport system to work and be safe. We now discuss the other bits needed.

Figure 1. The JFK, Newark, and Manhattan airspace. Click for a detailed view. Source: Foreflight.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 46. eVTOL comparison with helicopter

By Bjorn Fehrm

November 18, 2022, ©. Leeham News: In the comments to last week’s Corner, there were requests for a comparison with a helicopter re. Sustainability (kWh/km). Here you go.

I also threw in a cost of operations discussion, as the helicopter is the present alternative to an eVTOL for city-to-airport air transports.

Figure 1. The Robinson R66 five-seat helicopter. Source: Wikipedia.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 44P. eVTOL operating costs. The deeper discussion.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

November 4, 2022, ©. Leeham News: This is a complementary article to Part 44, eVTOL operating costs. It discusses the typical operating costs we can expect from an eVTOL when used in an air taxi operation.

Despite the operation of such transports being years off, an eVTOL has dominant cost factors that can be estimated today.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 42. eVTOL range.

By Bjorn Fehrm.

October 21, 2022, ©. Leeham News: This is a summary of the article Part 42P, eVTOL range. It discusses the range of a typical eVTOL flying a feeder mission from a city center to an airport.

The 42P article details the energy consumption for each stage in the mission and the range we fly. We summarize the results here.

Figure 1. The Vertical Aerospace VX4 in an early rendering with similar looks to the eVTOL we discuss. Source: Vertical Aerospace.

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