On March 2, the U.S. start-up flew an ATR 75 retrofitted with hydrogen. This is an important step for the company, which has requests to convert nearly 250 aircraft worldwide.
Named Lightning McCLean, this 40-seat retrofitted ATR 72* flew for 15 minutes from Grant County Airport (Washington State), USA. Universal Hydrogen had a special permit from the FAA, the US regulatory authority. This flight was the first of a two-year campaign.
On board the aircraft, in merely 12 months, the start-up replaced the engines with an electric motor and a fuel cell from Plugpower. And it was Alex Kroll, an aviation whiz, who took the yoke. This former US Air Force test pilot is the one leading the developments for Universal Hydrogen. It is worth noting that this flight comes after successful ground tests at the company’s engineering center in Toulouse.
Universal Hydrogen, which has the support of prestigious companies such as GE Aviation, Airbus Ventures, Toyota Ventures, JetBlue Ventures and American Airlines, has received 247 requests from 16 customers worldwide to convert ATR 72 aircraft to hydrogen.
*A regional transport aircraft designed by the Franco-Italian company ATR, in service since 1989
Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Logan King