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A hydrogen-powered 19-seater plane has flown in the skies above the Cotswolds in what its makers claim is a world-first.

ZeroAvia, an Anglo-US startup backed by Shell and United Airlines, conducted a test flight of its Dornier 228 aircraft on Thursday. It claims that the 19-seater is the biggest plane powered with a hydrogen-electric engine to take to the skies.

The aircraft, which has a hydrogen-electric engine on one wing and a jet fuel-powered turboprop engine on the other, took off from the Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire at 1.15pm and was in the air for six minutes.

I am absolutely, entirely and wholly, certain that it would be vastly cheaper to reformulate the hydrogen up to jet fuel and run that through a conventionally two engined turboprop aircraft.

16 thoughts on “Snigger”

  1. Yeah. I was looking at some of the celebratory comments under that article, yesterday. A six minute test flight. They’re still at the Wrights Brothers stage with this. According to the article, it requires a lithium battery to provide enough surplus power to get off the ground. So what happens if you have to abort a landing & go around again? How many times can you do that? There can be a lot of instances with aircraft where you need that full take-off power to get you out of trouble. If it ain’t there…whoops.

  2. I was watching a YouTube vid of the rebuilding of one of the D-Day Dakotas. The lead ship on the main wave drop. They did the taxi trials & a couple of hops. Then the test flight. About 40 mins I think it was. You need that to make sure everything works. Oil pressures hold. All the controls do what they’re supposed to. It went off with two rebuilt engines. There’s no difference between that & flying with this fuel cell electric. They worked when they were run up on the ground test. Suck it & see. It didn’t go off with a turbo-prop on one wing.

  3. Reformulating jet fuel might make carbon capture economical. Sort of 🙂

    Back 15 ish years ago it was pointed out that CO2 was great when fracking for oil, and that if they could reduce the cost of the current $80/tonne to 40$/tonne they could use to frack and also sequester the stuff. But that was not what the Green blob actually wanted, obviously 🙁

  4. The Green blob doesn’t want solutions, they want the plebs castrated and themselves in control without any of that offensive (to them) election and/or democracy nonsense.

    None of that has anything to do with solutions for energy generation or carbon sequestration.

    It’s Marxism with a green coat of paint, nothing more.

  5. “It went off with two rebuilt engines. There’s no difference between that & flying with this fuel cell electric”

    On the contrary, Pratt & Whitney R1830 radials (and a smaller number of Wright R1820’s) have been getting Dakotas off the ground for 80 odd years now, and I know which technology I would rather trust on a test flight…

  6. True Dave, but any rebuilt (or new for that matter) engine’s somewhat of an unknown quantity. With the Dakota, what came out of the test flight was above acceptable oil use on one. Requiring an engine out & strip-down. Why fight tests.

  7. “The lead ship on the main wave drop.” Is that a reference to the dropping of US paratroops? The poor buggers were ill treated. Many of the pilots ignored their instructions and flew low to avoid flak. Jumpers hit the ground before their parachutes could open.

    I think I got that story from this:

    Anyway, whoever wrote about that also covered the misbehaviour of the USAAF bomber pilots and of the USN officers who contributed to making the plight of the PBI on Omaha Beach so dreadful.

  8. @BlokeInSpain. They have gliders which fly too, and land. No power to go around there.

    As I’m 22 hours into learning to fly I’ve skin in this game. There is a light training aircraft that is all electric. Needless to say take off uses loads of the battery. Distance is massively constrained by needing a large reserve in case your destination closes and you need to divert. So the flying school can only use it 2 hours a day, or maybe even only 1 if you don’t take off early and have enough time to charge before dusk.

    I’m learning in a ‘modern’ aircraft designed in the late 90s as opposed to the one most people learn on designed in the 1940s or 1950s. These planes can be up for >6 hours a day as it only takes 15 mins to refuel.

  9. @ Andrew

    “There is a light training aircraft that is all electric”

    And wasn’t it the electric Pipistrelle which was pictured in a lake after suffering in flight power loss on one of its early flights?

    “Needless to say take off uses loads of the battery”

    And circuit practice, as you’ll no doubt be aware, makes up a substantial part of your flight training! So the idea that a flying school will be better off with an electric aircraft is just plain bonkers. And another thought: Since the majority of light aircraft still have carburetted petrol engines, it’s essential that pilots are taught the dangers of induction icing, and how to manage/mitigate it. If you were to do your entire PPL in an “E” plane or diesel engined alternative, do the CAA issue a restricted licence? It’s really no different to passing your car test in an automatic – you can’t (legally) drive a manual afterwards.

  10. At what point does it get worth using some ground-based apparatus to get a plane into the air?

    A catapult or pulling vehicle or some kind of electric power connection so it doesn’t drain the battery on take-off… no idea how you’d actually do it.

    But if you don’t do it, then any electric plane would be having to carry a pointless weight of drained battery for the rest of the flight. Whereas the cost of using extra power on take-off for a conventional plane is that it’s got to have some fuel capacity sit empty, but that’s better than having to carry the weight of the fuel the rest of the way.

  11. “A catapult or pulling vehicle”

    Is more or less how most gliders are launched. An engine driven winch instead of a catapult is commonplace, but they could be towed by a vehicle if a winch isn’t available. Aero towing, by another aircraft, is also used to get them further from the launch site to areas of better lift. But this is more expensive in terms of fuel, plus the considerable stress on the tug planes engine, going from full power climbs to rapid descents.

  12. Interesting point there that on an electric plane there’s no weight change as the ‘fuel’ is used up, not idea to what extent that’s adjusted for in a normal plane, but seems like it wouldn’t be totally irrelevant.

  13. Interesting point there that on an electric plane there’s no weight change as the ‘fuel’ is used up, not idea to what extent that’s adjusted for in a normal plane, but seems like it wouldn’t be totally irrelevant.

    On large aircraft it’s hugely relevant. The aim is to land at your destination with just enough fuel to meet legal minimum requirements, it’s said (as a rule of thumb) that on long haul every extra litre of fuel on landing requires 10 litres on take-off (because you burn extra fuel carrying the extra weight).

    An A380 has MTOW of ~560 tons, and can carry ~250 tons of fuel. The safe landing weight is 386 tons, so if a problem necessitates a return to base you have to dump or burn a lot of fuel before you can land. In an emergency, of course, you just land anyway, but the airframe and landing gear would require (at minimum) a detailed inspection before the aircraft can be flown again.

  14. A catapult or pulling vehicle or some kind of electric power connection… no idea how you’d actually do it.

    The Navy has some experience with catapults…

    Having experienced 170+ catapult launches I think it may not be to the taste of the average airline passenger.

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