PHOTO CAPTION: DLR's HY4 hydrogen four-place e-plane

Fuel Cell E-Plane Flight Planned Summer 2016

German researchers are planning to test fly a fuel cell-powered electric airplane.

Published: 04-May-2016

Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt; DLR) are planning for the maiden flight this year of the HY4 hydrogen fuel cell aircraft based on Pipistrel's G4 Green Flight Challenge.

Instead of relying entirely on battery power as did the original G4, DLR has tested a hydrogen fuel cell to generate electric power with a smaller battery pack buffer. The unusual twin fuselage allows the plane to carry up to 4 passengers, two in each half of the aircraft. The concept proved its merit, winning NASA's Green Flight Challenge flying the 200-mile course on the electrical equivalent of half a gallon of petroleum.

According to DLR's press release:

The fuel cell stacks are supplied by... Hydrogenics, and the electric propulsion concept, the electronic output components for the hybridization unit and the optimization of the motor are being researched at the Institute for Energy Conversion and Storage at the University of Ulm. Stuttgart Airport is supporting the project as a home airport.

The hydrogen fuel cell, which emits only water vapor, has been tested at maximum power levels for ten minutes. Only three minutes of full-power operation are required for take-off. Specifics on operational endurance, payload, range, etc., have not yet been announced.

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