World’s first piloted flight of liquid-hydrogen electric aircraft made history

  • This hydrogen plane took its maiden flight in a world-first
  • The plane was developed by a German-based company called H2FLY
  • H2FLY is working towards commercialization

Published on Jul 09, 2024 at 6:36 PM (UTC+4)
by Ben Thompson

Last updated on Jul 09, 2024 at 9:19 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

It’s official – an electric aircraft has taken its maiden flight in a world first.

H2FLY has developed a plane that runs on liquid hydrogen rather than gas.

The German-based company hopes that this will open the door for more zero-emissions long-distance flights.

READ MORE: Hypersonic jet capable of 50-minute London to New York flight has no windows

Zero emission flights – coming to an airport near you?

This isn’t the first time that H2FLY has delivered a world first in the zero-emission field.

Their HY4 hydrogen electric aircraft completed its maiden flight in 2016 and broke a world record in 2022 when it soared over 7,000 feet in the air.

H2FLY counts on the support of German ministries and Project HEAVEN, a group of aviation specialists who seek to prove that hydrogen-powered flights are feasible.

Following on from this recent flight with a pilot, H2FLY has potentially made a breakthrough and paved the way for longer flights and heavier payloads – weight onboard the plan).

The test campaign saw a human pilot fly the aircraft on four separate flights.

Unlike other planes, the HY4 aircraft was powered by cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen (LH2) rather than pressurized gaseous hydrogen storage (GH2).

Given that LH2 has significantly lighter tank weight and volume, the aircraft’s maximum range doubled from 466 miles to 932 miles.

H2FLY co-founder Professor Josef Kallo said: “This achievement marks a watershed moment in the use of hydrogen to power aircraft.

“Together with our partners, we have demonstrated the viability of liquid hydrogen to support medium and long-range emissions-free flight.

“We are now looking ahead to scaling up our technology for regional aircraft and other applications, beginning the critical mission of decarbonizing commercial aviation.”

H2FLY is hoping to commercialize these planes one day.

They aren’t the only ones working on making hydrogen powered planes a reality.

A UK government backed company, the Aerospace Technology Institute, is working towards the same goal.

Their proposed plane would be capable of flying halfway around the world without needing to refuel.

# Tags - Airplanes, Tech


Ben Thompson

Ben got his start in journalism at Kennedy News and Media, writing stories for national newspapers, websites and magazines. Now working as a freelancer, he divides his time between teaching at News Associates and writing for news sites on all subjects.