USFCC Applauds DOT Fuel Cell Decision

May 07, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

The US Fuel Cell Council (USFCC) expressed its support of the decision by the US Department of Transportation to approve the carriage of fuel cells and four fuels in aircraft passenger cabins. The decision is consistent with airline regulations internationally.

"DOT’s decision was highly anticipated in our industry and is most welcome," said Robert Rose, Executive Director of the US Fuel Cell Council. "It is truly a significant milestone in the commercialization of small fuel cell systems."

Approval for air passengers to carry and use fuel cells has been a major focus of the Council and its Portable Power Working Group. Other governments internationally had taken similar action early in 2007; the DOT decision brings US rules in line. The rule is mandatory as of October 1, 2008, but airlines may voluntarily comply as early as May 30.

A number of companies are developing fuel cells as alternatives to batteries in consumer products. The DOT rule will allow their routine use in passenger aircraft if they utilize one of four fuels, and meet certain other international specifications and requirements.

Another round of regulatory approval is in process for additional fuels. "We have asked DOT to align its approval process going forward with the international timetable, which anticipates approval of the additional fuels by January 1, 2009, to open the door even further to fuel cell systems in the marketplace." Rose concluded.