Universal Hydrogen’s modified twin-engine De Havilland Canada DHC8-Q300 has flown for the first time powered in part by the company’s hydrogen powertrain. The flight took place on Thursday at Washington’s Grant County International Airport (KMWH), lasting for 15 minutes and reaching an altitude of 3,500 MSL. For its first venture, just one of the Dash 8’s stock engines was replaced with a hydrogen powertrain.

“During the second circuit over the airport, we were comfortable with the performance of the hydrogen powertrain, so we were able to throttle back the fossil fuel turbine engine to demonstrate cruise principally on hydrogen power,” said Universal Hydrogen chief test pilot Alex Kroll. “The airplane handled beautifully, and the noise and vibrations from the fuel cell powertrain are significantly lower than from the conventional turbine engine.”

According to Universal, its powertrain is built around Plug Power’s ProGen family of fuel cells and uses a modified magniX magni650 electric propulsion unit. Thursday’s flight is the first in a planned two-year flight test campaign, after which the company is aiming for its powertrain to enter passenger service on a converted ATR 72. Universal reports that it currently has orders for 247 aircraft conversions from 16 customers worldwide.

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