Universal Hydrogen Presentation at Plane Crazy Saturday
November 11, 2023
Universal Hydrogen's De Havilland Canada Dash-8-300 aircraft was the star of Plane Crazy Saturday on Oct. 21 at Mojave Air & Space Port at Rutan Field. A beautiful, calm and warm day greeted all attendees who were thrilled to see "Lightning McClean" parked front and center on the ramp. The cowling was off of the powertrain so everyone could gather around and ask questions.
Universal Hydrogen website states: "Fueling carbon free flight!" Hydrogen is a true zero-carbon fuel. It is made from water and its only emission is water.
Chief Test Pilot Alex Kroll and Flight Test Engineer, Loris Gliner gave a fascinating presentation about the world's largest hydrogen fuel cell-powered airplane and the largest airplane ever to cruise principally on hydrogen. The MASP Board Room was packed, so the presentation was standing room only.
Kroll and Gliner gave detailed information with illustrations and answered all questions from the audience. They explained how they tested over and over in a simulator before flying the real airplane, keeping tasks and equipment as simple as possible.
The propeller used on the powertrain is an off the shelf Hartzell propeller, the same type used on a Socata TBM aircraft. It is smaller than the propeller that is used on the Pratt & Whitney Canada turboprop turbine engine, but the flying qualities of the aircraft aren't affected according to Kroll.
Alex Kroll is a former USAF Test Pilot and holds a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Aerospace Engineering, an MBA and an MS in Flight Test Engineering.
He is a Distinguished Graduate of USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, with 2,500 hours of flight time in over 50 different aircraft and is currently the Chief Test Pilot at Universal Hydrogen.
He also holds an Air Transport Pilot certificate and is type rated in the Boeing 737, DHC-8, and F-16.
Loris Gliner is the Director of Powertrain Engineering and flight test at Universal Hydrogen where he leads the development of 2MegaWatt hydrogen electric powertrain for regional aircraft.
He joined Universal Hydrogen in 2020 as the company's second employee. Prior to Universal Hydrogen, Loris worked at Airbus UpNext in Toulouse, France, where he researched autonomous taxi, take-off, and landing technologies for large commercial aircraft as part of the Airbus ATTOL A350 demonstrator.
He was also a team member of the Perlan Project, a project to fly a stratospheric glider to conduct high altitude scientific research. He took part in three flight test campaigns in southern Patagonia Argentina, including the 2018 campaign when the Perlan 2 glider and its 2 pilots, Jim Payne and Miguel Iturmendi, flew to 76,000 ft, surpassing the U2 spy plane and setting a world altitude record for subsonic flight.
Loris has a Master's Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Imperial College London and is a licensed pilot.
Photographer Eric Page Lu and student of Embry Riddle University was on hand to capture some outstanding photos of the aircraft on the ramp and in the air.
UH is proud of their 250 orders for their hydrogen regional aircraft products.
Kroll said that they are called "Universal" because the system won't be limited to only aircraft. The company is looking at other forms of transportation, including automobiles, construction equipment and trains.
Other aircraft flew in for the monthly event at the spaceport, including a Russian built Antonov AN-2 from the Golden Age Flight Museum in Tehachapi.
Pilot Todd Schultz made a pass down runway 26 and announced his arrival and departure with a loud train horn that is added equipment on this huge biplane.