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World's First Fuel Cell Powered Aircraft Flies

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Old April 7th 08, 04:25 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
Larry Dighera
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Default World's First Fuel Cell Powered Aircraft Flies

Well done, Boeing:


Boeing has successfully flown the world's first fuel-cell-powered
aircraft and it took its time announcing it. The Diamond Dimona
motorglider has flown three times since February out of an
airfield at Ocana, south of Madrid. The aircraft took off on a
combination of battery power and the fuel cell but used the fuel
cell alone to cruise at 3,300 feet and about 55 knots for 20
minutes. ... Click to watch the video

(http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/excl...7 546-1.html).



(http://media.avweb.com/banmanavweb/a...umber= 741780)


Boeing Fuel Cell Flights Point To UAVs
Apr 3, 2008
By Michael Mecham

In a series of three flights, Boeing has demonstrated straight and
level flight in a two-seat motor glider powered entirely by a
hybrid combination of a fuel cell and lithium-ion battery.

While the demonstration flights were piloted, Francisco Escarti,
managing director of Boeing Research & Technology Europe (BR&TE),
says the company's goal is to apply the data BR&TE has collected
toward unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to take advantage of a fuel
cell's zero CO2 emission count, very low noise levels and
insignificant infrared (IR) signature for surveillance flights.


Made in Austria, the aircraft has a 53.5-foot wingspan, tricycle
landing gear and a takeoff weight of 1,850 lb., including the 205
lb. fuel cell (dry weight) and 22 lb. of water as fuel.

Flights with pilot Cecilio Barberan at the controls (the second
seat was full of instruments) included takeoff and climb out to an
altitude of 3,300 ft. under battery- and fuel cell-power. He then
switched to the fuel cell only to test performance in cruise at
100 kph (62 mph), followed by a return to the battery/fuel cell
combination for landing. "That's about all the speed we could
get," says Escarti.

Flight time was generally about 30 min. with 20 min. devoted to
the fuel cell demonstration. The fuel cell had approximately 10
min. of margin beyond the 20-min. planned for the tests.

The first flight on Feb. 7 was for configuration control only and
did not include the fuel cell-only test. Two of the three fuel
cell test flights were held Feb. 26 with a third on March 8. All
flights were conducted in controlled air space above the Ocana air
field 40 mi. south of Madrid.

Built by Intelligent Energy of the U.K., the Proton Exchange
Membrane fuel cell motor delivered 15 kW power in cruise, about
what was expected, Escarti says. The lithium-ion batteries were
provided by France's SAFT. The flight also was supported by
contractors in Germany, Spain and the U.S. - 18 in all. ...

The cockpit was unusually quiet, with only the sounds generated by
the airframe and the propeller from Germany's MT Propeller.

The electrochemical conversion of hydrogen into electricity does
generate some heat but Escarti says the signature is so low that
would be an IR-plus for a surveillance UAV.

While there is opportunity for fuel cells to power manned
aircraft, Escarti expects them to play a bigger role in UAVs with
wingspans of about 20 ft.

For commercial operations, solid oxide fuel cells might be applied
to secondary power-generating systems such as auxiliary power
units. But as promising as fuel cell's emissions-free operations
are for the environment, Boeing doesn't expect them to become
primary power sources for commercial aircraft.

"The data we collected from the three tests are all that we need,"
Escarti said in a telephone interview from Madrid. "We won't fly
again but this moves us much closer to final product to put into
an unmanned aircraft."

The end of flights doesn't mean the fuel cell-powered Dimona will
disappear, however. It's under consideration for display at this
year's Farnborough air show.

Boeing Fuel Cell-Powered Plane Takes Flight
By Dave Demerjian April 04, 2008 | 2:50:10
... Madrid-based Boeing Research & Technology Europe led the
project, partnering with an international mix of universities and
aerospace companies, including SAFT France, Intelligent Energy,
and the US-based UQM Technologies.

Boeing believes that PEM fuel cell technology has the potential to
power small manned and unmanned air vehicles. The company also
said that solid oxide fuel cells could eventually play a part in
the secondary power-generating systems (think auxiliary power
units) of large commercial airplanes, but will likely never
provide primary power for large passenger planes. Although the
company was quick to point out that this is something they
continue to explore, along with a host of other alternative fuels
and energy sources.

Photo courtesy of Boeing

Boeing Fuel Cell Powered Airplane. Demonstrator. NASA FC APU.

What others report on the same story...

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