Key players in the Australian aviation and green hydrogen industries have come together to establish the Hydrogen Flight Alliance (HFA), aiming to propel the country’s aviation sector towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
The alliance, officially launched at Brisbane Airport, seeks to enable Australia’s first commercial hydrogen-powered flight between Brisbane and Gladstone in 2026, marking a significant milestone in emission-free air travel.
The initial focus of the Hydrogen Flight Alliance is on the operation of a 15-seat Stralis B1900D-HE aircraft by Skytrans Airlines, connecting Brisbane Airport and Gladstone Airport. Designed and manufactured in Brisbane, this hydrogen-powered aircraft will emit only water vapor, showcasing the potential of green hydrogen developments in both cities.
Stralis Aircraft, a member of the alliance, plans to conduct flight testing of their hydrogen electric-powered 6-seat Beechcraft Bonanza demonstrator aircraft in early 2024. These real-world trials in South East Queensland will provide valuable insights into the operation and refueling of hydrogen aircraft.
The newly formed alliance comprises leading Australian organizations involved in the development of the hydrogen flight ecosystem. Members include Stralis Aircraft, Skytrans Airlines, Brisbane Airport, Gladstone Airport, Aviation Australia, BOC (a Linde Company), H2 Energy Company (h2ec), Griffith University, and Central Queensland University.
By establishing a clean technology innovation hub in Queensland, the alliance aims to create world-class jobs, training programs, and emission-free aircraft manufacturing. The abundance of renewable energy and the growing green hydrogen industry in Australia make it an ideal location for hydrogen flight trials.
While green hydrogen shows promise in decarbonizing air travel, challenges remain regarding its availability at scale, cost-effectiveness, and airport supply infrastructure. The Hydrogen Flight Alliance, as a consortium of diverse expertise, seeks to address these challenges and drive progress in the field.
To ensure the safety of hydrogen-powered aircraft, commercial models will undergo the same rigorous testing and certification processes by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) as conventional aircraft.
Government incentives, such as the Inflation Reduction Act in the USA, have played a crucial role in advancing emission reduction technologies globally. Similar incentives are necessary for Australia to remain competitive in the race to decarbonize and drive the growth of its hydrogen industry.
The launch of the Hydrogen Flight Alliance aligns with Queensland’s ambitions for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games to be a climate-positive event. The alliance aims to support the transportation of athletes during the games using locally built emission-free aircraft.
The Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, the Honourable Mick de Brenni MP, emphasizes the importance of the green hydrogen industry in decarbonizing various sectors, including aviation. He believes that green hydrogen can revolutionize heavy haulage, shipping, manufacturing, and aviation while significantly reducing emissions.
The Member for Gladstone and Queensland Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing, the Honourable Glenn Butcher MP, highlights the key role that Gladstone will play in the development of Queensland’s renewable hydrogen industry. He expresses his excitement for the region to become a global hydrogen hub, with the launch of emission-free electric flights between Brisbane and Gladstone serving as a game-changer for the local economy.
Quotes from alliance members further underscore their commitment to advancing hydrogen flight technology and showcasing its viability in commercial aviation. They emphasize the need for collaboration, government support, and the transformative potential of hydrogen propulsion in the aviation industry.
In conclusion, the Hydrogen Flight Alliance represents a significant step towards a sustainable future for Australia’s aviation industry. With a clear focus on emission-free flight operations, the alliance aims to leverage Queensland’s renewable energy resources and emerging green hydrogen industry to establish Australia as a leader in hydrogen-powered aviation. By addressing challenges, fostering collaboration, and securing government support, the alliance seeks to pave the way for a greener and more sustainable aviation sector.