Universal Hydrogen announced it was granted an experimental airworthiness certificate by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), paving the way for the company to flight test its hydrogen fuel cell-powered aircraft.
Flight tests are expected to begin sometime in Q1 2023. Previously, Universal Hydrogen showcased the De Havilland Canada DHC-8-300’s propeller spun on hydrogen fuel cell power.
Footage capturing the De Havilland Canada DHC-8-300’s first taxi test has also been released by the company.
“The FAA approval clears the way for the first flight of the Dash 8-300 flying testbed which will take place at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington. The aircraft will be by far the largest hydrogen fuel cell-powered airplane to take to the skies,” Universal Hydrogen said in a statement.
“We are simultaneously providing a pragmatic, near-term solution for hydrogen infrastructure and delivery, as well as for converting existing passenger aircraft to use this lightweight, safe, and true-zero-emissions fuel,” stated Paul Eremenko, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and co-founder of the company. Eremenko was also the former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Airbus and United Technologies Corporation (UTC).
In December 2022, Universal Hydrogen began testing a modular hydrogen delivery center in Toulouse, France. “Those tests demonstrated a pragmatic, near-term, and highly scalable approach to hydrogen delivery to airports and into the aircraft using a modular capsule technology,” the company indicated.
“Today’s milestones are essential, important steps to putting the industry on a trajectory to meet Paris Agreement obligations. The only alternative is curtailing aviation traffic growth to curb emissions,” Eremenko continued.
The manufacturer has been developing hydrogen conversion kits for regional aircraft, namely the ATR 72 and the De Havilland Canada Dash-8. It plans to begin commercial flights with hydrogen in 2025. In September 2022, it announced a partnership with DAT, a Denmark-based regional airline that also offers ACMI and wet-lease solutions, as well as Everfuel, a Danish energy production company to enable “completely zero-emissions flight using clean hydrogen by the end of 2025”.
American Airlines is also an investor in Universal Hydrogen. The Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)-based airline announced the investment in October 2022.