Hydrogen Aviation Test Center to be built in Washington State
Universal Hydrogen, magniX, Plug Power, and AeroTEC announced creating a Hydrogen Aviation Test and Service Center at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington.
The centre will focus on the test flight and certification of Universal Hydrogen’s retrofit conversion of a Dash-8 regional turboprop aircraft, scheduled for entry into commercial service in 2025.
The new facility will be built at the AeroTEC Moses Lake facility, which has long been a favourite location for electric aviation projects. Last year, a battery-powered 9-passenger Cessna 208B ‘eCaravan’ took off there, powered by a magniX EPU. Using Universal Hydrogen’s proprietary Dash-8 conversion, the companies plan to build the first commercially relevant hydrogen-powered aircraft capable of serving 41 to 60 passengers on routes up to 1,000 kilometres.
The concept for the hydrogen fuel for the aeroplanes is that it will be supplied using modular capsules. The advantage of these is that they can be transported to airports using existing freight networks and on-airport cargo handling equipment, requiring no new infrastructure to be built.
Several interested customers have already been found for the project: Ravn Alaska, Icelandair, and Spain’s Air Nostrum have entered into letters of intent with Universal Hydrogen to convert their existing and future fleets to a hydrogen powertrain for long-term hydrogen fuel supply contracts.
“This is a game-changer for the state, and, frankly, aviation,” said Emily Wittman, President and CEO of the Seattle-based Aerospace Futures Alliance, the leading voice of the aviation industry in the state whose members include Boeing and Alaska Airlines. “The Universal Hydrogen, magniX, Plug Power, and AeroTEC teams have demonstrated a clear and credible path to zero-carbon aviation in the near term. Their investment in Moses Lake puts Washington at the forefront of these efforts. The possibilities for our state’s aviation sector are enormous.”
“From its days as a World War II air training centre to a centre today for alternative fuel development and flight testing, Moses Lake, Washington has led the way in aviation, energy, and innovation,” added Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power.