Hydrogen Aviation Testing at Mojave Space Port

| Aerospace Testing

The modified Dash-8 regional airliner is powered on one side by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain

Universal Hydrogen has completed a ferry flight of its hydrogen fuel cell-powered turboprop aircraft to the Mojave Air & Space Port where it plans to continue its test flight efforts

Universal Hydrogen has selected the Mojave Air & Space Port as its new flight test centre, and also announced the successful ferry flight to Mojave of its Dash-8 modified 40-passenger regional airliner, powered on one side by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain.

This move signals the next phase in its extensive flight testing regime. Since its initial successful flight test earlier this year, Universal Hydrogen has achieved four subsequent test flights, maintaining its planned trajectory for the two-year flight test campaign expected to culminate in 2025. During its second flight, the converted aircraft achieved a 30-minute flight at 170 knots of indicated airspeed (KIAS), ascending to 5,000 feet. Further strides were made in the third and fourth flight tests completed on June 12th, when the aircraft reached altitudes of 10,000 feet.

The ferry flight began in Moses Lake, Washington and travelled down the west coast with four stops across Oregon and California, covering a distance of over 800 nautical miles before reaching Mojave. The aircraft will reside at the Mojave Air & Space Port in California where Universal Hydrogen will conduct additional test flights gearing up to its goal of commercial entry into service in late 2025. The hydrogen powertrain was fully utilised for each take off, and on the first three legs of the ferry it was throttled down after take off. On the last leg the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain was used for the duration of the entire flight, accruing over 180 nautical miles, and a flight time of over one hour, which is the longest flight by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain to date.

Universal Hydrogen’s global headquarters is in Hawthorne, California and moving the aircraft and flight test activities to Mojave represents a substantial increase in its presence in the state. The Mojave centre consolidates test flight operations nearer to its headquarters, and also will allow the company to take advantage of a strong engineering talent pool in Mojave as well as nearby Los Angeles.

“Moving our flight testing to Mojave brings us closer to our headquarters in Hawthorne, ensuring optimal coordination with the team,” says Mark Cousin, CTO of Universal Hydrogen.

The Mojave Air & Space Port, first opened in 1935, has long been a pivotal player in aviation, serving as a major operation base in World War II and evolving into a hub of innovation in modern aviation and space industries. The location’s history is further distinguished by groundbreaking achievements, such as the Voyager’s global flight in 1986 – the first aircraft to encircle the world without stopping or refueling under the command of pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager – and the launch of SpaceShipOne, the inaugural privately-funded human spaceflight, piloted by Mike Melvill on June 21, 2004.

Jonathan Newell
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