World’s First Certified Hydrogen-Powered Passenger Aircraft Closer to Take-Off

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions is converting the iconic Islander into a hydrogen-powered aircraft 8 photos
Photo: Cranfield Aerospace Solutions
The Islander will be converted into a hydrogen aircraftThe Islander will be converted into a hydrogen aircraftThe Islander aircraftThe Islander aircraftThe Islander aircraftThe Islander aircraftThe Islander aircraft
A UK-based aviation company is closer to the official launch of what it claims to be the first hydrogen fuel cell aircraft that is fully certified and commercially viable for passenger flights.
Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) is using its experience of over 30 years in conducting complex modifications for large OEMs to develop a pioneering zero-emissions aircraft fueled by hydrogen. As its name suggests, CAeS is based at Cranfield Airport in the UK, and Cranfield University is one of its key shareholders.

The future nine-seat green aircraft is based on the iconic Britten Norman Islander, which will be fitted with an electric motor, a fuel cell system, and tanks for gaseous hydrogen. Cranfield’s conversion includes tanks that can store gaseous hydrogen at 700 bar, a 240 kW fuel cell system located in the nacelle, and 220 kW electric propulsion units comprised of a high energy density motor and an inverter controller.

An advanced thermal management system will provide integrated liquid cooling, while the human-machine interface will be ergonomically designed for the pilot’s interaction with the hydrogen system. Cranfield also boldly claims that this conversion will lead not only to zero-emission operations but also to an impressive 40% cut in operational costs.

These operational costs will be the responsibility of Evia Aero, an air transport company based in Bremen, Germany, focusing on climate-friendly sub-regional flights. The partnership between these two companies was announced last month, but now it’s official that Evia Aero will acquire ten hydrogen conversion kits for the Islander aircraft.

The future small, green aircraft are meant to provide sustainable alternatives for routes that are typically congested and also be part of an interconnected transportation system. Operations are expected to kick off in just three years, around Germany’s northern coast, the Netherlands, and Denmark. And that’s probably just the beginning of this pioneering green airplane.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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