Universal Hydrogen‘s Lightning McClean Dash 8-300 takes off for second flight

Universal Hydrogen's De Haviland Canada Dash 8-300 took off for its second flight
Universal Hydrogen

Universal Hydrogen’s De Havilland Canada Dash 8-300 has made its second flight, more than three months after its previous jaunt into the air. 

The turboprop aircraft, powered by hydrogen fuel cell propulsion, took off from Grant County International Airport (MWH), Moses Lake, Washington, the United States (US). According to the company, the aircraft, registered as N330EN, reached an altitude of 5,000 feet during the 30-minute flight and expanded the Dash 8-300’s envelope to 170 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS). 

“New heights in hydrogen aviation!” Universal Hydrogen claimed. 

Universal Hydrogen operated the first flight of the aircraft – Lightning McClean, as it was nicknamed – in March 2023, when it completed a 15-minute flight. The hydrogen-powered regional airliner rose to a maximum altitude of 3,500 feet. However, only one of the aircraft’s turboprop engines then ran on hydrogen, as the other was powered by traditional jet fuel. 

American Eagle, the regional operator of American Airlines, was the former operator of the De Havilland Canada Dash 8-300, which was delivered to Universal Hydrogen on February 9, 2022, according to planespotters.net data. 

The company aims for its conversion kit to be certified and enter into commercial passenger service in 2025, with Universal Hydrogen converting another regional turboprop, an ATR 72, to be powered by hydrogen. Connect Airlines and Amelia, two carriers from the US and Europe respectively, were present to watch the first flight of the manufacturer’s converted aircraft in March 2023. 

As of March 2023, Universal Hydrogen boasted an order backlog of 247 aircraft from 16 different customers, with an additional $1 billion plus in conversions backlog, and over $2 billion in fuel services in the decade following 2025. 

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