H2FLY, a Stuttgart-based company specializing in hydrogen-electric powertrain systems for aircraft, has achieved an aviation first: the world’s inaugural piloted flight of an electric aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen.
H2FLY’s journey into the realm of sustainable aviation has reached a historic milestone. The company has conducted four successful flights powered by liquid hydrogen, a remarkable feat that includes a flight lasting over three hours. These groundbreaking flights were carried out with H2FLY’s piloted HY4 demonstrator aircraft, equipped with a cutting-edge hydrogen-electric fuel cell propulsion system and cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen as its power source.
One of the most promising outcomes of these test flights is the revelation that utilizing liquid hydrogen instead of gaseous hydrogen can potentially double the maximum range of the HY4 aircraft, expanding it from 750 km to an impressive 1,500 km. This achievement represents a crucial step towards realizing emissions-free, medium- and long-haul commercial flights powered by hydrogen.
Professor Josef Kallo, co-founder of H2FLY, expressed the significance of this achievement, stating, “This achievement marks a watershed moment in the use of hydrogen to power aircraft. Together with our partners, we have demonstrated the viability of liquid hydrogen to support medium and long-range emissions-free flight.”
With the successful completion of these flights, H2FLY is now focused on scaling up its technology for regional aircraft and various other applications, marking the beginning of a critical mission: decarbonizing commercial aviation. This step aligns perfectly with the global shift towards sustainable aviation and reduced carbon emissions.
H2FLY’s success is not an isolated endeavor but a result of collaborative efforts under Project HEAVEN. This consortium, supported by European governments, is dedicated to demonstrating the feasibility of using cryogenic hydrogen in aircraft. H2FLY leads this consortium, with key partners including Air Liquide, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies, and Fundación Ayesa. The project’s funding has been provided by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport, and the University of Ulm.
The significance of this breakthrough lies in the use of liquefied, cryogenic hydrogen (LH2) as opposed to pressurized gaseous hydrogen storage (GH2). LH2 not only enables significantly lower tank weights and volume but also translates to increased aircraft range and useful payload capacity.
As H2FLY moves towards commercialization, it’s already making strides in developing its H2F-175 fuel cell systems, capable of providing full power in flight altitudes of up to 27,000 ft. This development positions H2FLY for real-world commercial aircraft applications.
In 2024, H2FLY will establish its Hydrogen Aviation Center at Stuttgart Airport, co-funded by the Ministry of Transport Baden Württemberg. This center is poised to become a cornerstone of Europe’s aviation industry and hydrogen economy, offering facilities for fuel cell aircraft integration and liquid hydrogen infrastructure.
H2FLY’s historic achievement marks a momentous step towards greener skies and a more sustainable future for aviation.