Propulsion startup ZeroAvia conducted the first flight of its hydrogen-electric powertrain on a Dornier 228 testbed from Cotswold Airport, England, on Jan. 19.
The aircraft flew for 10 min. with the 600-kW ZA600 fuel-cell propulsion system replacing the 19-seat regional turboprop’s left-side turboprop.
With a weight at takeoff of 5,650 kg (12,450 lb.), the modified 228 is the largest and heaviest aircraft yet to fly with hydrogen-electric propulsion. ZeroAvia previously flew a 200-kW demonstration system in a converted six-seat Piper Malibu.
On its first flight, ZeroAvia’s 228 reached 2,000 ft. and 120 kt with 50% of the power for the left-side electric motor coming from the fuel-cell system and 50% from batteries. Gaseous hydrogen tanks and fuel-cell stacks are installed in the fuselage.
Rival Universal Hydrogen on Jan. 18 tweeted video of its hydrogen-electric testbed—a 50-seat De Havilland Canada Dash 8-300 with a 1-megawatt fuel-cell system replacing the right-side turboprop—conducting the first propeller spin ahead of its planned first flight at Moses Lake, Washington.