HY4 is a four-seat hydrogen fuel cells technology demonstrator. A team led by Prof. Josef Kallo from the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics at the German Aerospace Center has been developing HY4’s powertrain and worked with industry and research partners Pipistrel, H2FLY, the University of Ulm, and Stuttgart Airport to make the maiden flight in 2016 a reality.
Since HY4 has more than one seat, it literally can be called the world’s first passenger aircraft powered by a hydrogen fuel cell system. Down the road, the team is partnering with Deutsche Aircraft to develop a hydrogen-powered Dornier 328, a 40-seat aircraft covering up to 2000 km, by 2025.
The aircraft was built by the Slovenian airplane manufacturer Pipistrel, and consists of two Pipistrel Taurus G4 motorglider fuselages connected by a common central-wing section on top of which the propulsion unit is located. This consists of an 80kw electric motor with the propeller in front and three low-temperature hydrogen fuel cells behind. The hydrogen is carried in two high-pressure tanks made of carbon fiber, located in each of the two fuselages just aft of the passenger cabin. HY4, as a technology demonstrator, can fly at a cruising speed of 145km/h and maximum speed of approximately 200km/h. Its range varies from 750km to 1,500km, depending on the speed, load and altitude parameters. The empty weight of HY4 without the fuel cell, battery and storage system is approximately 630kg, whereas the maximum weight is 1,500kg.
With the success of HY4, the team aimed more ambitious goals. In 2021 H2FLY, the managerial body of HY4 project, secured a large funding both through a strategic investor and a wide range of government-backed research grants. A sixth-generation fuel cell engine, powering the latest HY4 model, was designed by Josef Kallo and his team. Despite the difficult circumstances, the modified HY4 took off on 6 November 2020, in Slovenia, towards a new horizon of commercial prospect.
Drawing a large crowd everyday during show, the H3PS project’s demonstrator airplane located at the front row of A7 hall dedicated to “e-Flight-Expo” was certainly a highlight at AERO 2022. It is jointly developed by Tecnam Aircraft, Rolls-Royce and Rotax’s specialized teams and successfully flew for the first time on 21 December, 2021. The flight was performed by Tecnam’s Chief Experimental Test Pilot Lorenzo De Stefano, with Tecnam, Rolls-Royce and Rotax Teams on the ground. The Permit to Fly was issued by ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority.
H3PS stands for “High Power High Scalability Aircraft Hybrid Powertrain”. It is a project funded in 2018 under the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. With H3PS’ success, Tecnam Aircraft and project partners have validated the aircraft’s scalability potential, lower emissions, state of the art power management technology, building a viable launchpad for future green aircraft models.
H3PS is converted from Tecnam P2010 single-engine four-seat airplane. The airplane is normally powered by a 180hp Lycoming IO-360 combustion engine, but the H3PS demonstrator is converted to a 104kW Rotax 915iS engine coupled with a 30kW Rolls-Royce electric motor, totaling 134kW (180hp) powertrain in a fully integrated parallel hybrid configuration. As such, H3PS aircraft is first of its kind of parallel hybrid electric airplane.
Not intended for market purposes, the H3PS demonstrator airplane served as a validation tool and launchpad for Tecnam Aircraft and its project partners, who are now focused on expanding their sustainability efforts. As an EU-funded research project, H3PS has limits of duration and budget and is thus more for research and technology demonstration purposes rather than for commercial use. However, as the participating partners of the project mentioned, the technology and experiences obtained from H3PS will be transferred to other application which are intended for commercial use. Tecnam’s P-Volt is such case.
A Chinese eVTOL startup named WEFLY annouced that they have closed angel financing of “several tens of millions USD”. The company claims that their team come from veteran OEM with FAA and EASA certification experiences. The company however does not reveal any aircraft design details in the annoucement except for indicating that they are working on a passenger-carrying eVTOL design. The following image which appears to be vertiport with a company logo is the only image disclosed by the company as of today.
A Chinese eVTOL startup named Windrider annouced that they closed series A round of”several tens of millions RMB” and has received total investment of “near 100 millions RMB (around 150mn USD)” since setup.
The company has begun test flying a sub-scale model which, along with the conceptual design graphic, indicate that their eVTOL design has lift+cruise configuration.
As AERO–the largest general aviation trade show in Europe, and the first and the largest electric aviation trade show in the world–e-Flight-Expo–are going to take place from 27-30 April in Friedrichshafen, Germany, there are many exciting product releases and market development at the show after a two-year postpone due to the pandemic.
As the co-founder and co-organizer of e-Flight-Expo, we publish Aero and e-Flight-Expo special edition as usual and they are now online for FREE! Even better, they are available in English, German and Chinese lanuages. You can read it here: https://www.flying-pages.com/index.php?id=1462
We will report more show news on the ground and are looking forward to meetign you at our booth No.100 in hall A7–the begining of the “sustainable aviation trail” or SAT at the show. For more information about AERO and e-flight-expo, please visit the official webpage: https://www.aero-expo.com/about-aero/aero-branches/e-flight-expo
The Norwegian electric aviation startup Elfly is designing an fully electric-powered amphibian flying boat and has received $1.8 million funding from the Research Council of Norway. The hull’s design is currently being tested at SINTEF ‘s tow tank in Trondheim. The research that will provide data for the design of the optimal hull is a separate research project supported by Norway’s Regional Research Fund.
According to the CEO of Elfly Eric Lithun, the goal is to be able to offer flexible mobility in Norway, have zero emissions, significantly less noise pollution and develop new sustainable business models. The design goal is to fly 200km at about 250 km/hour. Lithun hopes that with this electric flying boat, the travel time from Bergen to Stavanger will be 40 minutes compared to four to five hours by car. Eventually the electric flying boat will able to fly from Bergen to Trondheim via a stopover in Molde, which will be noticeable from center to center and will beat all other options even with a stopover. Lithun believes that the main reason why seaplanes are not already widespread is because today’s aircraft have internal combustion engines that suck in oxygen and salt water that corrodes the engine which leads to sky-high maintenance costs to operate. By switching to electricity, this problem disappears.
The electric flying boat will have room for nine passengers, and Elfly will offer flights on a par with other commercial players. The goal of Elfly is to have 15 to 20 such flying boat in the air by 2030. In addition to passenger travel, the flying boat can also be used for freight transport, ambulance transport and premium flights where you can charter the entire aircraft. Lithun envisages that it can be used for exclusive electric plane safaris.
On 4 April 2022 Pipistrel and Lobo Leasing Limited, a global vertical lift leasing platform, signed a letter of intent with deposits for the acquisition of 15 Nuuva V300 autonomous VTOL cargo drone develoiped by Pipistrel.
As part of the agreement, Lobo leasing and Pipistrel will collaborate to build and connect a base of operators and investors, and by using Lobo’s existing global platform, deliver customer-driven bespoke leasing solutions to enhance the deployment of the Nuuva V300 aircraft in different types of missions globally.
The NUUVA V300 is a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAV for middle mile logistics with a 3 cubic meter capacity, and under favorable flight conditions, the vehicle can carry 460kg up to 400km. It is designed to operate 10x more economically than today’s helicopters, it requires no runways, and it brings enhanced safety and reliability using Pipistrel’s already type-certified electric engines.
Aviation Safety Resources (ASR) announced the acquisition of Pioneer Aerospace, a specialist of whole airframe emergency parachute recovery systems. ASR plans to rebrand Pioneer Aerospace to ASR-Pioneer. Pioneer Aerospace’s product line includes payload delivery deceleration equipment, recvery systems, and kits to support specialized programs ranging from aviation to space projects.
ASR hopes that the new company ASR-Pioneer will capture the growing eVTOL market and new light airplane models. In August 2020 Bye Aerospace, the developer of eFlyer series electric airplanes, signed up ASR for the deveopment of the whole aircraft parachute recovery systems.
A new effort to foster sustainable sevelopment of the UAM ecosystem in Europe called “European Urban Air Mobility Projects & Initiatives Community” was launched during the Amterdam Drone Week.
The newly launched community consolidates the efforts of 18 relevant projects across Europe run by both EU and individual European countries and aims to establish a Pan-European collaborative platform to facilitate knowledge sharing across UAM projects and initiatives in Europe.
Urban Air Mobility (UAM) projects and initiatives across Europe are increasingly on the rise. Whether they are projects funded, or practical initiatives supported, by the European Union (EU), Member States or Local Authorities, they all have an impact on cities and regions across Europe. The EU UAM Projects & Initiatives Community aims to set the stage for Urban Air Mobility by establishing a collaborative and exchange platform linked to the European Green Deal and Digital Agenda, in which each project is contributing with its own focus and expertise.
On March 24, 2022 the European Union Aviation Safety Agency published the world’s first guidance for the design of vertiports, the ground infrastructure needed for the safe operation of Urban Air Mobility services such as air taxis in locations across Europe, including in urban areas.
The Prototype Technical Design Specifications for Vertiports offers guidance to urban planners and local decision-makers as well as industry to enable the safe design of vertiports that will serve these new types of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, which are already at an advanced stage of development.
“Urban air mobility is a completely new field of aviation and we therefore have a unique opportunity to develop a set of infrastructure requirements from scratch,” Patrick Ky, Executive Director of EASA said. “With the world’s first guidance for safe vertiport operations, EASA’s ambition is to provide our stakeholders with the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to safe vertiport design and operational frameworks. By harmonising design and operational standards for vertiports we will support European industry, who are already starting to embark on exciting projects in Europe and around the world to make new urban air mobility a reality.”
One notable innovation is the concept of a funnel-shaped area above the vertiport, designated as an “obstacle free volume”. This concept is tailored to the operational capabilities of the new VTOL aircraft, which can perform landing and take-off with a significant vertical segment. Depending on the urban environment and on the performance of certain VTOL-capable aircraft, omnidirectional trajectories to vertiports will be also possible. Such approaches can more easily take account of environmental and noise restrictions and are more suitable for an urban environment than conventional heliport operations, which are constrained in the approaches that can be safely applied.