A Dutch student organization AeroDelft has successfully completed the maiden flight of its prototype hydrogen-powered aircraft. This prototype aircraft, called Phoenix, flew for 14 minutes at the height of 1,150 feet (350 meters) over the Breda International Airport in the Netherlands. Also, for the first time ever, the team taxied and revealed their full-scale manned aircraft, which is scheduled to fly on liquid hydrogen by 2025.
The AeroDelft student team aims to prove and promote liquid hydrogen as an alternative to conventional aviation fuel with its ‘Project Phoenix.’ They plan on achieving this goal by developing two aircrafts – a scaled prototype drone and a full-scale manned aircraft.
Prototype Phoenix is a 1:3 scale model of a highly efficient motorized glider, with a maximum take-off weight of 40 kg and a wingspan of 6 meters. The data gathered from the first battery-powered flight confirms that the drone is capable of flying on liquid hydrogen. This means the aircraft can serve as a test-bed for hydrogen technologies the team is developing.
Full-Scale Phoenix aircraft builds on these technologies to perform the world’s first manned liquid hydrogen flight. The aircraft is a 2-seater Sling 4 aircraft, with a maximum take-off weight of 920 kg and a wingspan of 10 meters. The aircraft will first fly on gaseous hydrogen before making the transition to a liquid hydrogen powertrain.
“The AeroDelft team shows the way towards sustainable aviation. A vision, courage, dedication, and full commitment. In my opinion, leading by example,” Henri Werij, dean of the TU Delft faculty of Aerospace Engineering, said, praising the team for their efforts.
In combination with fuel cells, liquid hydrogen is a promising technology to reduce emissions in aviation to zero by 2050.