Simple Flying is reporting British firms Britten-Norman and Cranfield Aerospace Solutions are merging to create a series of hydrogen-electric fuel cell aircraft, the first of which is expected to be in service in 2026. Britten-Norman still makes the Islander light twin commuter and cargo aircraft, and the first hybrid design from the new company will be based on the nine-seat Islander, which has been in service for 50 years. Cranfield has been working on hydrogen propulsion systems for several years and is now working on the setup for the Islander.

Once the hybrid Islander is flying, the company wants to retrofit an existing 10- to 19-seat commuter aircraft and have it flying by 2028. Then, the company hopes to build a clean-sheet 20- to 50-passenger aircraft built specifically for the new propulsion system. They hope to have that in the air by 2032. A 50- to 100-seat design is in the far future, the company says. The merging of Britten-Norman and Cranfield Aerospace Solutions will create a new market leader in green aircraft manufacturing, bringing together joint strengths in aerospace manufacturing, certification and innovation,” said Britten-Norman CEO William Hynett.

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