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Universal Hydrogen receives FAA certification to fly 40+ passenger hydrogen electric plane

Zero-emission aviation developer Universal Hydrogen has shared video footage of its 40+ passenger hydrogen fuel cell plane testing ground handing ahead of its first-ever flight. The video comes with bigger news that the company has received an experimental airworthiness certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to take flight. When it does, it is expected to become the largest hydrogen electric powered aircraft to ever do so.

Universal Hydrogen Co. is a Southern California-based aviation company founded in 2020 by engineers with the mission of bringing zero emission hydrogen electric powered aviation to reality. Following two milestones today, the young aviation company is closer than ever.

Universal Hydrogen’s first product was a conversion kit for the ATR 72-600 – a regional airliner that can transport 44-78 passengers with traditional fuel engines. The company notes that it expects that kit to be certified and in commercial passenger service by 2025.

Meanwhile, the aviation developer has been working on a second aircraft that resembles the ATR’s configuration, utilizing a a megawatt-class hydrogen fuel cell powertrain installed in one of its nacelles.

The company calls this aircraft the Dash-300 flying testbed. With its capability to eventually transport over 40 passengers using hydrogen fuel cells and electric powertrains, it could soon be the largest of its kind to ever take to the skies. Following its recent news of FAA Certification, we expect to see its maiden flight occur before the end of Q1. Check out the video below.

Universal Hydrogen
The Dash-300 flying testbed / Credit: Universal Hydrogen

Universal Hydrogen completes taxi test ahead of first flight

This morning, Universal Hydrogen shared news that it has been granted a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category by the FAA.

The first flight of the Dash 8-300 flying testbed will take place at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington and if successful, will award Universal Hydrogen as the largest hydrogen fuel cell-powered airplane to take flight and the second hydrogen-powered aircraft ever. The Soviet Union completed a flight test in 1988 using a Tupolev Tu-155 airliner that had one of its jet engines converted to burn hydrogen.

What’s unique about Universal Hydrogen’s technology in the Dash-300 is that its powertrain does not utilize a hybrid battery architecture. Instead, all of the power to propel the aircraft is transmitted directly from the fuel cells to the electric motor. The company states this design significantly decreases both weight and lifecycle cost. Founder and CEO Paul Eremenko spoke to today’s news:

We are simultaneously providing a pragmatic, near-term solution for hydrogen infrastructure and delivery, as well as for converting existing passenger aircraft to use this lightweight, safe, and true-zero-emissions fuel. Today’s milestones are essential, important steps to putting the industry on a trajectory to meet Paris Agreement obligations. The only alternative is curtailing aviation traffic growth to curb emissions.

In anticipation of its first flight with the Dash-300, Universal Hydrogen recently completed its first taxi tests to evaluate the aircraft’s ground handling and performance at low speeds. You can see video footage of that below. Next, we are looking forward to the regional aircraft’s maiden flight and will report back when that takes place in the coming months.

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Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how tos or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports.
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