Boeing Announces Fuel Cell Airplane Project Partners

July 13, 2003 by Jeff Shepard

Boeing Co. (Chicago, IL) announced its partners for a demonstrator airplane project aimed at exploring the use of fuel cell technology for future aerospace applications. The research project, led by the Boeing Research and Technology Center in Madrid, Spain, includes Intelligent Energy (UK), Diamond Aircraft Industries (Austria), Spanish companies Sener and Aerlyper, and Advanced Technology Products (ATP).

The project will evaluate the potential application of fuel cell technology, which is cleaner, quieter and more efficient than current gas turbine technology, for future commercial airplane products. As part of the evaluation, the project will develop and flight-demonstrate an electric-motor-driven airplane powered by fuel cells.Work to integrate the fuel cells into the demonstrator airframe is expected to begin at the end of summer 2003, with a possible flight test in late 2004 or early 2005.

With respect to the five partners collaborating in the project, Diamond Aircraft will supply the demonstrator airplane, based on a certified Katana Xtreme motor-glider; Intelligent Energy will provide the proton-exchange membrane fuel cell hardware and technical support; Sener will design and build a fuel cell controller unit to be used in research activities; Aerlyper will integrate the electric motor into the airplane and perform airframe modification work; and ATP will supply the motor, batteries and controllers to complete the electric propulsion system, and perform the flight testing of the airplane.