By Bjorn Fehrm
November 30, 2023, © Leeham News: The interest in Green alternative propulsion for airliners started in earnest at Farnborough Air Show 2014, where Airbus flew the E-Fan battery-electric aircraft. What followed was a dense stream of alternative propulsion airliner projects.
They all have in common that nothing much has come out of them. We have a Pipistrel two-seat trainer that can fly for 50 minutes on batteries, but not much else. More elaborate projects have wide slips in their plans, and nine years later, we lack real prototypes for all projects.
We have functional models flying for nine-seat hybrids and 19/30-seat hydrogen fuel cell aircraft that swap one engine for a Green alternative. Of the latter, there is one project that stands out from the rest. It has shown real progress over the last years and has realistic plans for a 55-seat hydrogen airliner that can be operational in three to four years.
We will analyze why the Universal Hydrogen ATR fuel cell project is the exception to the “Green Propulsion Rule,” that nothing comes out of all plans, and why it could be the first Green Propulsion airliner, ending a 10-year draught.
By Bryan Corliss
March 9, 2023 © Leeham News – AeroTec learned “a lot about hydrogen” as it prepared Universal Hydrogen’s (UH2) Dash-8-300 flying testbed for its first flight last week.
“Hydrogen wants to escape,” said Dale Goulding, the chief technology officer for Seattle-based AeroTec. “It’s a very small molecule that wants to get out of whatever container you put it in.”
For that reason, Universal Hydrogen’s modular capsule makes refueling easier than it would be if the companies tried to replicate the fuel-pumping process used to refuel carbon-powered aircraft, he said.
“It’s been no problem at all,” Goulding said. “Just roll them in and out. It’s real easy.”
Goulding led a team of roughly 60 AeroTec employees working out of Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, WA., which was where Universal Hydrogen’s first flight took place on March 2. The plane took two passes over the airfield, flying with a hydrogen fuel cell powering one propeller, while a second kerosene-powered motor was on idle, in case it was needed.
The short flight was intended to “get up, get down safely, then look at all the data,” he said; taking concepts out of the lab and putting them into the sky.
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.