HY4 fuel cell aircraft

Fuel-cell powered flight

The HY4 is the world’s frst four-seat passenger aircraft powered solely by a hydrogen fuel cell battery system. The research aircraft is thus paving the way for passenger aviation without noise, soot particles and carbon dioxide emissions. The exhibit displays a 1:4 scale model of the HY4.

The powertrain developed for the aircraft consists of a hydrogen storage, a low-temperature hydrogen fuel cell and a high-performance battery. The fuel cell converts hydrogen directly into electrical energy. The only waste product from this process is water. An electric motor uses the power thus generated to propel the aircraft. The high-performance lithium battery covers peak power loads during take-off and when climbing. If the hydrogen required for the fuel cell is generated via electrolysis using power from renewable energy sources, the HY4 can fly without generating any emissions at all. The HY4 took off on its maiden flight in September 2016 from Stuttgart Airport.

Long-standing aerospace and energy research activities in the felds of batteries, fuel cells and hydrogen technology have made DLR and its partners experts in the felds of More Electric Aircraft (MEA) and All Electric Aircraft (AEA). Under the auspices of the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics, which is responsible for the overall integration of the power train, the following partners have joined forces to achieve the world’s frst fuel cell passenger aircraft: the fuel cell manufacturer Hydrogenics, the Slovenian aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel, the University of Ulm as a scientifc partner, as well as Stuttgart Airport as the home airport for the HY4. The DLR spin-off H2FLY operates the HY4 and is responsible for the certifcation process. The project was funded by the DLR and Stuttgart Airport. The current research project and the fundamentals of fuel cell technology were funded by NOW GmbH (National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology).

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Josef Kallo · E-Mail: josef.kallo@dlr.de · DLR.de/en