H2FLY, a company specializing in hydrogen aviation, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully conducting a manned flight of an aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen. This groundbreaking flight took place at Maribor Airport in Slovenia and was part of the HEAVEN project, which received funding from the European Union.
The HEAVEN Project: Investigating Liquid Hydrogen for Aviation
The HEAVEN project, an acronym for “Hydrogen Electric and Automated Vessels for Environmentally Neutral Aviation,” represents a collaborative effort aimed at assessing the feasibility of using liquid hydrogen as a viable fuel source for aircraft. Liquid hydrogen is considered a promising alternative to traditional aviation fuels due to its potential to reduce emissions and extend flight durations.
Impressive Performance of the HY4 Aircraft
During the flight test, the HY4 aircraft demonstrated its capabilities by remaining airborne for over 3 hours. This achievement showcases the aircraft’s potential to operate with reduced emissions and extended flight durations compared to conventional aircraft.
Although the HY4 aircraft is not currently slated for commercial production, H2FLY has ambitious plans to scale up its fuel cell system to a megawatt capacity. When fully fueled, the aircraft has the potential to fly for up to eight hours, with a hydrogen storage capacity of up to 24 kilograms (kg).
Infrastructure Development: A Key Factor in Success
The success of liquid hydrogen-powered aviation also relies on the development of a reliable fueling infrastructure. H2FLY has partnered with Air Liquide for the HEAVEN project, marking the first instance of an airport being equipped to handle liquid hydrogen refueling.
Liquid hydrogen offers several advantages over gaseous hydrogen. It boasts a higher energy density, reducing the need for large fuel tanks and enabling greater payload capacity. Additionally, liquid hydrogen has the potential to decrease emissions and extend the range of flights.
H2FLY: Leading the Way in Hydrogen-Powered Aviation
H2FLY, founded in 2015 and acquired by California-based Joby Aviation in 2021, is at the forefront of hydrogen-powered aviation technology. Joby Aviation specializes in the development of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles for urban air mobility services.
The successful flight of the HY4 aircraft marks a significant step forward in exploring hydrogen as a sustainable and environmentally friendly fuel source for aviation. As the aviation industry continues to seek innovative solutions to reduce its carbon footprint, hydrogen-powered aircraft offer a promising pathway toward cleaner and more efficient air travel.