Aeronautical engineering firm Stralis Aircraft and Queensland regional airline Skytrans Airlines will develop and test Australia’s first zero-emission hydrogen-electric powered 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) centered around an electric motor and a liquid hydrogen storage tank.
They will adapt the system to the Stralis B1900D-HE (photo) which will have a range of 800 km and will be able 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 the passenger experience and create a world-class aircraft manufacturer in Australia, according to the company’s website.
Stralis Chief Technology Officer, Stuart Johnstone, said the development of this innovative technology will allow Stralis to access the $3.4 billion per year mid-size turboprop market.
Johnstone said: “As the price of green hydrogen declines, it will become competitive with fossil fuels over the next five years and we want to be well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities in this technology.
“When the B1900D-HE enters service in 2026, it will have operating costs comparable to conventional 19-seat turboprop aircraft and 25% lower operating costs by 2035.”
The Skytrans acquisition includes an order for three aircraft, with options on two more. The airline’s goal is to be a fully net zero airline by 2050.
Skytrans CEO Alan Milne said: “We are proud to lead the country 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 modernized aircraft, Stralis charted a future development path to develop its own airframes and aircraft, beginning with the 45-seat SA-1.
“Incorporating learnings from the B1900D-HE program and customer input, Stralis will design a pristine aircraft optimized around hydrogen electric propulsion.
“One of the goals of this program is to provide improved operating costs and scalability.”
A 90-seater version is also envisaged in the longer term.
Photo: Skytrans Airlines
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