This is a two story in one article where the company, H2FLY, stands in the middle. reported last month that Joby had secretly bought a Hydrogen-Electric Aircraft Developer called H2FLY, last year. Although, to be fair, the news was first broken by The Air Current. 

This revelation has somewhat lain under the radar, but explains why Joby’s founder and CEO, JoeBen Bevirt, has been dropping hints recently, particularly during this week’s Farnborough Airshow, about his vision of hydrogen-electric propulsion for medium and long-haul airlines as a means towards aviation’s full zero-carbon sustainability.

The move signals Joby’s long-term strategy may include aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel cells, in addition to air taxis with powertrains driven by lithium-ion battery arrays. 

JoeBen Bevirt Enthusing About Hydro-Electric Propulsion Systems at Tuesday’s Farnborough Airshow

Meanwhile, H2FLY are making excellent progress. After 10 years of working on CO2-free propulsion systems, the Stuttgart-based developer announced this week, it is another step closer to making zero-emission commercial air travel a reality.

“H2FLY has revealed,” says a press release, “That in just a few weeks’ time, the company’s revolutionary HY4 aircraft – which is currently operated using pressurised gaseous hydrogen – will be modified to receive a new liquid hydrogen tank, that will double the range capability of the HY4 aircraft.”

It goes on, “Following the integration of the new tank and fuel cells, the aircraft is planned to enter a rigorous program of ground testing early in 2023 and is expected to be the world’s first commercial aircraft to fly using liquid hydrogen.”

This milestone should not only enable better flight range, but will be the first time the team has handled liquid hydrogen on-board, marking another significant step towards H2FLY’s goal of delivering the world’s first fully hydrogen-electric powertrain, integrating fuel cells with liquid hydrogen; critical in the pursuit of achieving true zero-emissions medium and long-haul flight and making jet fuel obsolete.

Prof. Dr. Josef Kallo, co-Founder and CEO of H2FLY, commented, “An aircraft that uses liquid hydrogen has the potential to transform the way we travel between cities, regions and countries. Liquid hydrogen has huge advantages over the alternative pressurised hydrogen gas, not least because it becomes possible to carry a far greater quantity on board an aircraft. The result is that significantly longer ranges are possible.”

He added, “As we head into this exciting new phase for the company we’re looking forward to proving this important new technology.”

Zackes Brustik Interviews Prof. Dr. Josef Kallo

H2FLY’s recent progress is impressive.

: In 2020 H2FLY was granted a permit to fly the latest generation of the HY4 aircraft, which featured a fully redundant powertrain architecture. Across more than 90 takeoffs, the company successfully demonstrated the applicability of hydrogen-electric propulsion solutions in aviation

: In 2021 the company signed a strategic partnership with aircraft manufacturer Deutsche Aircraft that will see the companies work together to fly a CS25 class aircraft powered by H2FLY’s hydrogen fuel cell technology. The climate-neutral regional aircraft, which is expected to fly in 2025, is planned to have a 2,000km range and seat up to 40 passengers.

: Earlier this year, the company completed a cross-country flight, from Stuttgart, Germany to Friedrichshafen, covering 77 miles, marking the first time a hydrogen-powered passenger plane has flown between two commercial airports.

: Also this year, the company set what is believed to be a world altitude record for a hydrogen aircraft, flying at 7,230 feet, confirming the company’s position as a leader in this new category.

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