It flies! The most important milestone in the Fuel Cell development project has now been reached. On 6.6.2023, the drone successfully took off for the first time with hydrogen propulsion. This makes the CarryAir the first UAV in Europe to be powered by fuel cells. And in the process, a truly purely European product has been created: The CarryAir from Striekair engineering GmbH from Germany, a fuel cell from England, storage tanks from Italy and the connection technology from Poland. As a result, the project was rightly supported with European funds.
The most difficult phase in flight is takeoff and hovering. This is when the highest power is required. The drive train must deliver 5 -8 Kw of power to lift the 25-kilo device into the air. Later, in forward flight, only 850 watts are required. Therefore, successful take-off and knowledge of the energetic behavior are the most important intermediate steps in the development. These have now been achieved.
The values simulated and expected in advance via the test facility have now been confirmed, and the transition from theory to practice has been successful. During this flight, which lasted about 40 seconds, about 25,000 measured values were recorded. Every small movement that can be seen on the video changes the energy requirement. The engineers must now evaluate this and derive any adjustments from it.
This hovering will now be repeated under different wind and temperature conditions. Cooling must be sufficient even at 40° outside temperature, and the system must not ice up even at sub-zero temperatures.
(Picture: all necessary components for the hydrogen propulsion are installed,, AeroDCS)
When the practical test series for the energy supply have been completed, the transition to the transition phase will still be tested. However, no problems are expected here, as the device itself has already been flying for some time in the battery version.
AeroDCS would like to thank the team that has driven the development forward for two years now.
Also thanks to Thomas Strieker of Striekair engineering GmbH for his days and nights of support during development and testing. Without his experience in lightweight construction and the development and production of aircraft, we could not have managed the development.
And, of course, many thanks to the English manufacturer of the fuel cell Intelligent Energy. The product proved to be very robust and was able to meet the specifications and performance data in all phases of the project.
The core elements of the project were thus completed on time and on budget. The only thing missing now for the marketable start-up is the regulatory framework. The technology for flying beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) was also installed, tested and put into operation. This allows the device to be controlled remotely in flight via a control station. The technology is ready - only the regulatory issues around EASA and LBA not yet. But this is being worked on and our association (UAV-DACH) is confident.