Cape Town-based FlyH2 first came to prominence in 2015 after winning first prize at South Africa’s Avi Awards for a prototype unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Powered by a hybrid power system combining hydrogen with electricity, this has developed to constructing the Dragonfly V, a commercial drone designed for a range of applications requiring long endurance or payload flexibility, reports a press release.
The flight tests took place last week in Citrusdal, approximately two hours outside of Cape Town.
This hybrid system is a sensible step given the worsening energy crisis in the country. At present, South Africa’s state-owned power utility, Eskom, is implementing rolling electricity power cuts across the nation, affecting cities like Johannesburg and its township. Businesses and the public are experiencing up to 10 hours a day of power cuts, crippling the country’s economy which is leading to a growing economic crisis.
The release states, “While there is still a way to go until the Dragonfly V is fully ready for production, the aircraft has already demonstrated remarkable handling and efficiency during its first flights. Dragonfly V is a fixed-wing STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) drone that is targeted for use in multi-mission applications. Capable of carrying heavy and high-volume cargo, Dragonfly V is also ideal for long-range humanitarian airdrops.”
Mark van Wyk, co-Founder and CEO of FlyH2, commented, “The Dragonfly V is a unique, highly capable, and versatile drone that is priced for commercial operations, but with attractive qualities not typically found in its class.”
Presently, FlyH2 is raising capital to take its product to market. The company has a growing list of orders and is also accepting pre-orders, secured with a deposit. Once Dragonfly V is production-ready, the craft will achieve up to 24 hours of hydrogen-fuelled flight, depending on payload, making it an ideal platform for extended missions.
Mark van Wyk
Also, the drone’s airframe is unusual in that it is modular, equipping operators with the means to customise and switch payloads in order to meet specific mission requirements. It can carry up to five payload pods beneath the wings making it a multi-mission platform.
A growing number in both the drone and eVTOL industries believe it is only through hybrid systems that UAV and vertical take-off and landing aircraft can attain long flight duration as fuel cells significantly increase endurance.
Onno Huyser, co-Founder of FlyH2, remarked, “Our focus on using STOL instead of VTOL greatly reduces cost, increases endurance and simplifies maintenance. The aircraft offers a promising future for the commercial drone industry.”
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