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Project Fresson to develop hydrogen fuel cell retrofit for 9-passenger aircraft

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS)—the UK SME leading the Project Fresson consortium—will exploit recent advances in hydrogen fuel cell technology to develop a commercially viable, retrofit powertrain solution for the nine-passenger Britten-Norman Islander aircraft.


Following a rigorous assessment of hydrogen technology innovators, CAeS welcomes Ricardo UK Ltd and Innovatus Technologies Ltd to the Fresson consortium. Ricardo UK Ltd brings expertise in fuel cell system development and Innovatus Technologies Ltd brings their innovative Scottish Hydrogen Fuel Tank (SHyFT) technology.


Innovatus Technologies Ltd leads the field in next generation ultralightweight hydrogen tank design exploiting patented cellular core composite techniques. This is critical to the successful integration and exploitation of hydrogen fuel cell power systems in applications across aerospace, automotive, industrial, and marine sectors.

Project Fresson will deliver an emissions-free (zero CO2), hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered flying demonstrator by September 2022. Having completed a comprehensive evaluation of technologies and configurations for sustainable aircraft propulsion, the Fresson team concluded that hydrogen fuel cell technology is the optimum solution to meet environmental, regulatory and operational requirements for this size of aircraft, enabling zero carbon emissions and reducing operating costs.

This has presented the Fresson consortium, which includes Britten-Norman and Cranfield University, with an opportunity to deliver an enhanced technology programme that surpasses the original demonstrator concept.

Project Fresson is supported by the ATI Program, a joint Government and industry investment to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace design and manufacture. The program, delivered through a partnership between the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK, addresses technology, capability and supply chain challenges.

As a result of these changes, there is now no longer a need for the Rolls-Royce element of the original aircraft program. It is therefore Rolls-Royce’s intention to withdraw from Project Fresson and the consortium is going through the necessary steps for this to happen.



Blending the H2 tank into the wing would make a much more efficient design overall. All the appendages that are not bombs, refueling, or radars are starting to look ridiculous. Except if the H2 storage tech is evolving to fast. Great to see aviation decarbonization progress!


LH2 tanks do not take that much room

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