Universal Hydrogen takes key step in certification of fuel cell tech

California start-up Universal Hydrogen is a step closer to establishing a certification basis for retrofitting ATR 72 regional turboprops with its fuel cell technology.

The developer disclosed on 14 September that the Federal Aviation Administration accepted its application for a supplemental type certificate for retrofitting the French-made turboprops with “liquid hydrogen modules and a fuel cell-electric propulsion system”.

Universal Hydrogen’s modified Dash 8-300 arrived in June at Mojave Air & Space Port, where the company is conducting an “ambitious” ground- and flight-testing programme

Universal Hydrogen says it is working with the FAA to establish full certification requirements for its design and has embarked on an “ambitious ground and flight test campaign” to demonstrate airworthiness and compliance with safety standards for passenger flight.

The start-up tells FlightGlobal that is does not have a target date for finalising its certification basis with the FAA, but it is hopeful that the major milestone will be passed in “coming months”.

The company hopes to secure supplemental type certificates for hydrogen-fuel-cell retrofits for both De Havilland Canada Dash 8s and ATR 72s, which come standard with twin Pratt & Whitney PW123s.

In March, Universal Hydrogen conducted the maiden sortie of its hydrogen-fuel-cell powered Dash 8-300 in Moses Lake, Washington. It has since flown the demonstrator – which has one PW123 and one fuel-cell powertrain – to Mojave Air & Space Port in California for testing ahead of its 2025 certification goal.

Tags: Certification, Fuel Cell, Universal Hydrogen