Fuel-cell powered aircraft take to the skies
Fuel-cell powered manned intercity aircraft are now being developed thanks to the solid support of the EU, which has provided EUR 2.9 million in funding to the Environmentally Friendly Inter-City Aircraft powered by Fuel-Cells (ENFINCA-FC) project. Led by Giulio Romeo, Full Professor of Airplane Design and Aerospace Structures at Turin Polytechnic University, the project is part of the aeronautics and space priority of the Sixth Framework Programme. This project is helping Europeans prove their prowess on the global stage.
The fuel-cell system will be installed in a selected aircraft which will be flight and performance tested for functionality and future applicability. The project’s results will be presented to the public at both on-ground and in-flight events at the end of the three-year research period. In the meantime, the Boeing Company and its industry partners in Europe are also designing a light aircraft that will be powered by a 20 kW fuel-cell and lithium-ion battery pack and expect to commence flight testing this year using a two-seater aircraft.
The two great advantages of employing fuel-cell technology are low noise and low emissions – features which are of primary importance for commuter aircraft take-off and landing, and landing in urban centres and populated areas. The ability to take off and land without breaking any of the noise abatement regulations set for small airfields in or near urban areas, will allow them to be used late at night when the regulations are most stringent.
The project consortium comprises 11 partners and brings together key figures
from industry and academia in the design, development and validation of intercity
aircraft, together with expertise in fuel-cells. As well as providing low noise
and low emission solutions, the study will also highlight the technical and performance
advantages that can be obtained through fuel-cell technology compared to existing