Stralis Aircraft plans hydrogen powered aircraft

Aircraft engineering firm Stralis Aircraft and Queensland regional airline Skytrans Airlines will develop and trial Australia’s first zero-emissions hydrogen electric propulsion aircraft, based on a Beech 1900D airframe.

Announced at the Regional Aviation Association of Australia Roadshow in Darwin, Stralis will design, build and flight test an integrated Hydrogen Electric Propulsion System (HEPS) centred around an electric motor and liquid hydrogen storage tank.

They will retrofit the system into the Stralis B1900D-HE (pictured) which will have a range of 800 km and will have the capacity to carry 15 passengers.

The first test flight is expected to be completed in early 2025, with certification and entry into service in 2026.

Stralis was founded in 2021 to decarbonise air travel, improve passenger experience and create a world class aircraft manufacturer in Australia, according to the company website.

Stralis chief technology officer Stuart Johnstone said developing this innovative technology will allow Stralis to access the $3.4 billion a year medium-sized turboprop market.

Johnstone said: “As green hydrogen drops in price, it will become price competitive with fossil fuels within the next five years and we want to be well positioned to capitalise on the opportunities from this technology.

“When the B1900D-HE enters service in 2026, it will have comparable operating costs to conventional 19 seat turboprop aircraft and 25 per cent less operating costs by 2035.”

The Skytrans acquisition includes an order for three aircraft, with options on another two. The airline’s target is to be a completely ‘net zero’ airline by 2050.

Skytrans CEO Alan Milne said: “We are proud to be leading the nation in developing its hydrogen industry and we want to play a leading role in showing that this technology can work in aviation.”

Following the development of the retrofitted aircraft, Stralis has mapped out a future development path to develop its own airframes and aircraft, starting with the 45 seat SA-1.

“Incorporating learnings from the B1900D-HE program and customer inputs, Stralis will design a clean sheet aircraft optimised around hydrogen electric propulsion.

“An objective of this program is to offer improved operating costs and scalability.”

A 90 seat version is also is also envisaged in the longer term.

Picture: Skytrans Airlines

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