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Saturday, May 10, 2008

First Hydrogen Powered Manned Air Flight

The First Hydrogen Powered Manned Air Flight has been completed.

Three test flights took place in February and March 2008 at the airfield in Ocana, south of Madrid, Spain. During the test flights, a two-seat Dimona motor-glider with a 16.3 meter wingspan was used as the airframe. Built by Diamond Aircraft Industries of Austria, it was modified by BR&TE to include a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell/lithium-ion battery hybrid system to power an electric motor coupled to a conventional propeller.

During the flights, the pilot of the experimental airplane climbed to an altitude of 1,000 meters above sea level using a combination of battery power and power generated by hydrogen fuel cells. After reaching the cruise altitude and disconnecting the batteries, the pilot flew straight and level at a cruising speed of 100 kilometers per hour for approximately 20 minutes solely on power generated by the fuel cells. Although the takeoff required the use of a regular engine, it is still considered by many in the industry as a remarkable feat.