Universal Hydrogen Is Participating In Deutsche Aircraft’s Project to Convert Dornier 328 Into A Regional Airliner

Universal Hydrogen Is Participating In Deutsche Aircraft’s Project to Convert Dornier 328 Into A Regional Airliner

Universal Hydrogen and Deutsche Aircraft have begun evaluating the feasibility of fitting its modular hydrogen capsules in the Dornier 328 regional jet. The 21st of July announcement follows a related partnership deal between Deutsche Aircraft and H2Fly to develop hydrogen fuel cell technology for twin-turboprop aircraft.

In accordance with a memorandum of understanding signed on July 6, Deutsche Aircraft and H2Fly intend to fly a demonstrator aircraft by 2025, with the intention of supporting commercial operations with up to 40 passengers. Currently, the Dornier 328 is powered by Pratt & Whitney turboprop engines.

Universal Hydrogen, headquartered in California, is developing its own plans to put a complete hydrogen powertrain in various regional aircraft, such as ATR42s and Dash 8s. For these projects, it has teamed with one of its investors, the U.S.-based fuel-cell expert PlugPower.

Deutsche Aircraft and Universal Hydrogen will examine the dimensions and integration of the modular capsule technology for hydrogen storage on aircraft structures and systems. In addition, they will evaluate aircraft weight and balance, infrastructure and fuel costs, mission performance, and the architecture of the hydrogen logistics network.

The intended demonstrator aircraft to be developed with Deutsche Aircraft will use a 1.5 MW hydrogen system that is far more powerful. The partners want to certify hydrogen-powered aircraft in accordance with EASA's CS-25 certification requirements for bigger commercial airliners.

Deutsche Aircraft is currently developing the D328eco, a conversion program for the Dornier 328 that will be offered as a stopgap measure until the longer-term improvements in propulsion can be introduced to the market. This entails elongating the fuselage of the existing regional aircraft by two meters to accommodate up to 43 passengers and adding new Pratt & Whitney PW127S engines that can operate on biofuel. The business hopes to finish the preliminary design assessment for this project in September and to begin manufacturing the aircraft by 2025.

As part of its D328eco+ program, Deutsche Aircraft is investigating two simultaneous solutions for hydrogen propulsion. A company spokeswoman told FutureFlight, "We view our collaboration with both organizations as essential and complementary to the development of the technology building blocks we need to bring hydrogen applications to maturity." "We feel that hydrogen has the potential to assist us achieve this goal, but at this time we cannot be certain that hydrogen technologies will work for aviation."

The Dornier 328 aircraft serves solely as a demonstration platform for the two initiatives. It would not necessarily serve as the foundation for a future hydrogen-powered aircraft development.

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