Universal Hydrogen commences flight testing program

The Universal Hydrogen test aircraft over the Mojave Desert.
Photo Credit: Universal Hydrogen

Last week, Universal Hydrogen Co. hosted a kickoff event for a flight test and maturation campaign for its regional products.

The campaign follows a successful March 2023 first flight of the world’s largest hydrogen fuel cell-powered airplane and the largest airplane ever to cruise principally on hydrogen.

From First Flight March 2023

Universal Hydrogen made history in March 2023 when it achieved the first flight of the world’s largest hydrogen fuel cell-powered airplane.

This achievement marked a pivotal moment in the quest for sustainable aviation. The aircraft, which is also the largest to cruise primarily on hydrogen, demonstrated the potential of hydrogen as a clean and efficient fuel source.

From Moses Lake to Mojave

Following the successful first flight, Universal Hydrogen continued to push the boundaries of hydrogen-powered aviation.

In June 2023, the aircraft embarked on a ferry journey from Moses Lake, Washington, to Mojave, California. This journey was not only a significant achievement but also included several “firsts” in the aviation industry.


The aircraft’s successful journey also neatly showcased an expanded operating envelope for the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain.

Universal Hydrogen’s journey toward commercial entry into service by 2026 has now seen the accomplishment of ten test flights.

A Universal Hydrogen ATR 72 flies on hydrogen fuel.
Photo Credit: Universal Hydrogen

Zero Emissions Over California

The kickoff flight, which lasted approximately 20 minutes, included critical evaluations of the aircraft’s performance.

During this time, the flaps and landing gear were retracted, and the aircraft reached 5,000 feet MSL (Mean Sea Level).

What’s more, the hydrogen powertrain operated at maximum power, allowing engineers to measure the noise level reduction that fuel cell-electric propulsion offers—an exciting development in noise reduction technology.

Angelina Galiteva, CEO of ARCHES, shared her excitement about the zero-emission plane flying over California’s skies.

She emphasized the role of California-based companies like Universal Hydrogen in mitigating climate change, improving air quality, and providing economic benefits to local communities.

A Two-Year Flight Test Campaign

The kickoff flight marks the commencement of a two-year flight test campaign. During this period, several critical milestones will be achieved:

Powertrain Optimization

The first phase of the campaign focuses on optimizing the performance of the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain.

This optimization includes the introduction of new hardware, such as a custom-developed, aviation-grade turbocompressor.

This addition will enable flights at altitudes of up to 25,000 feet MSL, matching the operating ceiling of the Dash 8 aircraft.

Modular Liquid Hydrogen Storage

Universal Hydrogen will introduce its patented modular liquid hydrogen fuel storage system.

This innovative technology will play a pivotal role in ensuring the safe and efficient storage of hydrogen, a crucial element in hydrogen-powered aviation.

Certification Testing

The final phase of the campaign involves certification testing to demonstrate that the production configuration of the aircraft meets all FAA-mandated airworthiness and safety requirements.

Notably, the FAA has issued the G-1 issue paper, outlining the certification basis for hydrogen-powered commercial passenger aircraft—a historic milestone for the aviation industry.

A Universal Hydrogen test aircraft in Mojave CA.
Photo Credit: Universal Hydrogen

Mojave Air & Space Port

Universal Hydrogen’s choice of the Mojave Air & Space Port as its aircraft and flight test base further solidifies its commitment to California.

The region, known for its aerospace innovation, provides an ideal environment for advancing sustainable aviation technology.

The company’s partnership with the Mojave Air & Space Port promises not only regional benefits but also reinforces California’s position in sustainable energy and aviation technology.

Tim Reid, General Manager of the Mojave Air & Space Port, commended Universal Hydrogen’s efforts to revolutionize the industry with sustainable hydrogen technology.

He expressed enthusiasm for the potential of hydrogen to drive a systematic, affordable, and rapid transition to zero-emission transportation.

A Global Impact

Universal Hydrogen’s groundbreaking journey towards sustainable aviation has garnered international attention. Air New Zealand, a global airline committed to sustainability, has expressed its support for Universal Hydrogen’s progress.

Kiri Hannifin, Chief Sustainability Officer of Air New Zealand, emphasized the airline’s interest in adopting lower emissions fleet options by 2030, highlighting the significance of Universal Hydrogen’s journey toward certification and entry into service.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
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