The first flights of a pair of hydrogen-powered technology demonstrators are now set to happen early in 2023. As 2022 drew to a close rivals ZeroAvia and Universal Hydrogen were making final preparations to begin their respective flight tests with Dornier 228 and Dash 8-300 twin turboprop regional airliners.
On December 23, the UK Civil Aviation Authority issued a permit to fly for ZeroAvia’s 19-seat Dornier 228, which has been involved in ground tests at Kemble Airport in England for several months. One of the aircraft’s Honeywell TPE-331 turboprop engines has been replaced with the U.S.-based start-up’s hydrogen-electric powertrain.
ZeroAvia is aiming to have finalized the production configuration for the ZA600 propulsion system by the end of 2023 and to have the first aircraft converted under supplemental type certificates and in commercial service during 2025.
Like ZeroAvia, Universal Hydrogen also aimed to start flying its technology demonstrator by the end of 2022. In mid-December, the U.S. company confirmed that the first flight with a converted Dash 8 had been rescheduled for January, following taxi tests to be conducted just before the holiday season.
"The integration of the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain into the flight test aircraft took somewhat longer than anticipated,” said a spokesperson for Universal Hydrogen. “Integration is now complete and the aircraft is undergoing ground testing. We aim for...first flight in January."
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