British startup ZeroAvia held the first series of flight tests of electric aircraft, made on the basis of turboprop light aircraft Piper Malibu Mirage. As written by Aviation Week, the tests were carried out at the airport of Cranfield from 22 till 25 Jun 2020. Electric aircraft performed 10 flights of recognized successful. In these tests the aircraft was equipped with only the battery. Currently ZeroAvia deals with the alteration of the plane — it is planned to install hydrogen fuel cells.
Developing a hydrogen-electric aircraft maintained by the company ZeroAvia in the framework of the government program HyFlyer in conjunction with the University of Cranfield. The project HyFlyer plan to create a hydrogen demonstrator aircraft, designed to carry 6 passengers. During testing, the exact date is not yet determined, the hydrogen plane will fly length of about 460 to 560 kilometers. Testing will take place in the Scottish Orkney Islands until the end of the year.
Within the framework of alterations in the hydrogen version on the Piper Malibu Mirage will be equipped with fuel cell low-temperature proton exchange membrane. They will be connected to the fuel tanks with compressed hydrogen, installed in the cockpit. It is expected that hydrogen-powered version of the electric plane made its first flight in September 2020. Soon ZeroAvia also plans to remodel in the hydrogen version of one of the 19-seat passenger aircraft (Piper Malibu Mirage — quintuple) and to conduct its tests during the second half of 2020.
Later instead of fuel tanks with compressed hydrogen ZeroAvia plans to use tanks with liquefied hydrogen. Eventually the startup hopes to create a hydrogen propulsion system for a 10-seater single-engine and a 20-seater twin-engine aircraft capable flight range of over 800 kilometers. Commercial shipments of the new propulsion system the company plans to launch in three years.
In October last year, a British consortium of Cranfield Aerospace Solutions has been developing the project of converting passenger aircraft Britten-Norman Islander with piston engines in a hybrid aircraft. The development is conducted in the framework of the project Fresson, designed for 3-4 years. During the development it is planned to establish serial conversion has been flying planes in hybrid, and production of new aircraft.