New DLR-HY4 – The First Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft Debuts at Stuttgart Airport

By December 12, 2020 5   min read  (900 words)

December 12, 2020 |

New DLR HY4 The First Hydrogen Powered Aircraft Debuts at Stuttgart Airport 2
  • Fuel cell aircraft presented at Stuttgart Airport
  • Environmentally friendly and silent drive receives test flight permit

Climate-friendly flying could soon become commonplace across Europe. At Stuttgart airport on December 11, the latest generation has been presented the world’s first four-seater hydrogen fuel cell aircraft HY4 at a predominantly virtual event.

The alternative drive from a battery fuel cell system was developed in the lead by Professor Josef Kallo, who conducts research at Ulm University and at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Stuttgart. Only recently, the latest generation of Hy4 drives received a test flight permit and can therefore take off at Stuttgart Airport.

New DLR HY4 The First Hydrogen Powered Aircraft Debuts at Stuttgart Airport 1

New DLR-HY4 – The First Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft Debuts at Stuttgart Airport

Congratulations from Andreas Scheuer on this important step towards environmentally friendly flying , Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure , with a video message.

“The hydrogen aircraft Hy4 is innovative, quiet and climate-friendly. It shows that CO2-free aviation is already possible and feasible today. This new way of flying has what it takes to change mobility in the long term. Germany is a pioneer in this high-tech area: the Hy4 is the world’s first four-seater passenger aircraft that flies purely electrically with fuel cells. That is innovation made in Germany and secures jobs and added value in our country. ”

The first flight of the Hy4 hydrogen passenger aircraft at Stuttgart Airport was a minor sensation in 2016: the last time the four-seater took off on test flights in November was silent and emission-free in Maribor, Slovenia. The Hy4 is powered by a hybrid system that combines battery and fuel cell technology. If the energy gained in this way – for example when taking off or climbing – is insufficient, the lithium-ion battery takes over. In the fuel cell, hydrogen and oxygen are converted into electrical energy for propeller drive. The environmentally friendly by-product is water. To date, the functionality of the new propulsion system has been tested and examined in more than 30 take-offs and flights of up to two hours.

The Baden-Württemberg Transport Minister Winfried Hermann acknowledged at the presentation at the airport scientific achievements behind HY4: “Air transport must be as soon as possible climate-friendly. With the worldwide unique hydrogen fuel cell airplane Hy4, science is presenting a promising technology for emission-free flying. With this expertise, Baden-Württemberg is a pioneer in global competition in the field of hydrogen and fuel cell technology. ”

The first milestone of the Hy4 project should be regional flying taxis for individual passengers. But since the first flight of an airplane with a fuel cell in 2008, Kallo and his partners from research and industry have massively developed the future-oriented drive technology. “The sixth generation of the system now includes redundancy concepts for the hydrogen tank, fuel cell, energy distribution and the electric drive. Thanks to the increased efficiency and improved safety architecture, hydrogen-powered aircraft for up to 40 passengers and with ranges of 2,000 kilometers will be possible in the next ten years, ”explains the Ulm institute director Professor Kallo.

At the Institute for Energy Conversion and StorageAt Ulm University, the electric motor and the power distribution unit were developed by Hy4, tested under laboratory conditions and put into operation. The electric motor has an output of 120 kilowatts and thus enables a maximum speed of 200 kilometers per hour. The basic fuel cell research and the interconnection of the components were largely carried out at DLR. H2FLY GmbH, on the other hand, is responsible for the overall system architecture consisting of a hydrogen tank, fuel cell and electric drive. In addition, H2FLY is responsible for the safe integration and operation in the aircraft.

“With the only cluster of excellence in the field of battery research in Germany and strong partners in the city of science, Ulm University has developed into a leading international center for energy research. The environmentally friendly Hy4 aircraft combines battery and fuel cell technology and is therefore an excellent application example for innovative drive concepts and the mobility of tomorrow, ”emphasized Professor Michael Weber, President of Ulm University.

The cooperation partners firmly believe in the future of hydrogen propulsion in aviation – and have now been confirmed with the permit-to-fly. Thus, emission-free, efficient and at the same time low-noise flying in the passenger area is within reach. As sponsors from the very beginning, representatives of Stuttgart Airport are also happy about this development: “The emission-free flying of the future is making considerable progress with this project. In the interests of the climate, we must continue to vigorously pursue the development of technology in aviation and its market launch, ”says Walter Schoefer, management spokesman for Flughafen Stuttgart GmbH. The future tests in Stuttgart until May will focus on the interaction and coupling of new, even more powerful drive components.

The project partners Hy4

In the project Hy4, Ulm University, DLR, H2FLY and Diehl Aerospace (data communication and control hardware) are pooling their expertise. On an international level, they are supported by Pipistrel (aircraft hardware) and the research institutions Politecnica di Milano , TU Delft , University of Maribor and Cummins Canada . The sponsors include the National Organization for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology ( NOW GmbH ) and the Federal Ministry of Economicsand the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. In addition to funds from industry, there are also funds from DLR, Stuttgart Airport and the European Commission .


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