Universal Hydrogen’s hydroelectric Dash 8 performed its first flight at Moses Lake in Washington State. The flight lasted 15 minutes.
Universal Hydrogen replaced the starboard engine on the Dash 8 with a magni650 electric propulsion unit (EPU). This EPU was provided with electricity by a hydrogen fuel cell system. The Dash 8 represents the world’s largest hydrogen fuel cell-powered aircraft.
“This is the first hydrogen airplane to be powered by a magniX EPU, and we are delighted to be leading the aerospace industry once again,” said Nuno Taborda, CEO at magniX. “Hydrogen has never enjoyed greater mindshare, and we have witnessed many governments laying out ambitious strategies to harness it. Passing this milestone with Universal Hydrogen furthers our mission to accelerate the adoption of zero-carbon flight.”
magniX’s flight-proven EPUs can be powered by any electric power source. magniX has powered several battery-electric aircraft, including a De Havilland Beaver seaplane (2019), a Cessna Grand Caravan (2020), a Robinson 44 helicopter (2022), and the Eviation Alice (2022), the first flight-tested all-electric commuter airplane. magniX also recently announced plans to develop hydrogen fuel cells to complement its battery-electric and hybrid-electric systems. Hydrogen produces zero carbon emissions and has a high energy density, providing the capability to power larger electric aircraft.
“Hydrogen fuel cells are an important next step in the electric age of aviation, enabling us to electrify bigger aircraft and to achieve longer ranges,” said Riona Armesmith, Chief Technology Officer at magniX. “This landmark flight is a crucial step towards reaching that goal. We are very excited for the potential of hydrogen to shape the culture of aerospace. I am very pleased to congratulate Universal Hydrogen on this significant achievement.”
All aerospace innovation is exciting. The race to net zero is moving in some quarters, with hydrogen as an energy source being looked at by most OEMs. the challenge remains to find a method to store it efficiently. The Dash 8 being tested had to “lose” a lot of seats to accommodate the fuel supply.
On a small aircraft like this, the economics are compromised. But it’s early days, and Universal Hydrogen will work to improve the storage footprint.
Here is a video from Universal Hydrogen showing preparations for today’s first flight.
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.