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May 26, 2024
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Hydrogen fuel-cell pioneer Universal Hydrogen has moved its flight test campaign from Moses Lakes (Washington) to Mojave Air & Space Port (California). The company says that Mojave is closer to its headquarters in Hawthorne (California) and will allow it to take advantage of the engineering pool that is located in Mojave and Los Angeles. Universal Hydrogen moves to Mojave to continue test campaign.

The move has already been completed with the transfer of the De Havilland Canada Dash 8-300 from Moses Lake to Mojave last week. According to data from Flightradar, the aircraft departed Moses Lake early morning on June 23 and arrived at the Californian airport after four stops a day later.

The aircraft flew with an active starboard magniX electromotor that gets the electricity from hydrogen fuel cells stacks. The hydrogen powertrain was fully utilized for each take-off, and on the first three legs of the ferry, it was throttled down after take-off. On the last leg the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain was used for the duration of the entire flight, accruing over 180 nautical miles, and a flight time of over one hour, which is the longest flight by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain to date,” Universal Hydrogen says in a press release.

Four flights completed since March

The Dash 8 made its maiden flight at Moses Lake Grant County International Airport on March 2, flying for fifteen minutes around the airport. Universal Hydrogen said today that the aircraft has done four more flights since the first one, all at Moses Lake. The second flight lasted thirty minutes and reached 5.000 feet, while on the third and fourth flights on June 12 that aircraft flew at 10.000 feet.

The flight test campaign will now continue for some two more years at Mojave as Universal hopes to certify the hydrogen powertrain in 2025. This should then enter service on an ATR 72-600. One ATR has already been converted and received the powertrain and the hydrogen capsule system that is unique to the Universal Hydrogen configuration. The French/Italian turboprop is used for ground tests in Toulouse but will join the flight test program at a later stage.

Californian commitment to hydrogen

Except for the closer location of Mojave to Universal’s headquarters, the move to California also reflects the commitment from the state of California to hydrogen. It will participate in the US Department of Energy Hydrogen Hubs competition through the creation of the Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Systems (ARCHES).

“Basing their test flight operations in Mojave will supercharge a site of significant aviation and space history, and create good-paying jobs for Californians as we ramp up our efforts to combat climate change,” said Chair David Hochschild of the California Energy Commission.

The arrival of Universal Hydrogen in Mojave also adds another chapter to the long history of the airfield, which has been active since 1935 and has seen many tests of experimental aircraft. Close by is one of the world’s largest aircraft storage locations where phased-out airliners are parted out or put in deep storage.

author avatar
Richard Schuurman
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016. Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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