Stuttgart-based hydrogen aviation startup H2FLY announced that it has flown its HY4 aircraft to an altitude of 7,230 feet (2,203 meters), setting a new world record for hydrogen-electric flight.
The company said it achieved the record altitude during a 77-mile flight from Stuttgart to Friedrichshafen on April 12, meaning it is also the first time this particular type of aircraft has been piloted between two commercial airports.
‘A remarkable achievement for H2FLY’
H2FLY was founded in 2015 by five engineers from the German Aerospace Center in Stuttgart and the University of Ulm. Its main goal is to bring the first qualified, fully hydrogen-electric aircraft powertrain to the market in a bid to help unlock emission-free flights.
According to H2Fly, the HY4 became the world’s first hydrogen-electric passenger aircraft when it first took to the skies in 2016. The company closed a major funding round in April 2021, and its founders believe hydrogen-electric aircraft will be able to carry up to 40 passengers over a distance of 2,000 kilometers (1,240) miles in the next few years.
Speaking about the new world record, Prof. Dr. Josef Kallo, co-founder and CEO of H2FLY said “this is a remarkable achievement for H2FLY, as no other hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft has flown between two commercial airports to date. We are also thrilled to have set what we believe to be a new world record by reaching an altitude of over 7,000 feet with our HY4 aircraft.”
Claus-Dieter Wehr, Managing Director of Friedrichshafen Airport, said it was “the first time” in the airport’s “more than one-hundred-year history” that a hydrogen aircraft had landed on one of its runways. “We are very pleased that we [could] play our part in the further development and testing of hydrogen-electric propulsion,” he continued.
H2FLY also showed off its HY4 aircraft to the public for the first time at the AERO Friedrichshafen airshow, which took place in April. It is a four-seater aircraft powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, in which hydrogen reacts with oxygen and is converted into electricity and water. The only emission, therefore, is water, which is harmless compared to the carbon emissions of traditional aviation.
Aviation giant Airbus also recently announced it aims to equip one of its massive A380 aircraft with a hydrogen powertrain to test the technology. This, and H2FLY’s work, forms a part of the aviation industry’s wider push to reduce carbon emissions, as global aviation currently accounts for roughly 2 percent of all emissions worldwide.
The HY4 will act as a test platform for H2FLY, which aims to develop hydrogen propulsion systems for larger aircraft. In fact, the company said it has an agreement in place with Deutsche Aircraft to develop a hydrogen-electric-powered, 40-seat Dornier 328 by the year 2025.