Germany-based MTU Aero Engines has entered into an innovation partnership with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to investigate the potential ways forward for future certification of what MTU calls a “flying fuel cell” (FFC)—i.e., hydrogen fuel-cell propulsion systems for aviation.
The hydrogen-powered fuel cell is a promising propulsion concept on the way to emission-free flying and an integral part of MTU’s Clean Air Engine (Claire) technology agenda. Safety is a top priority in aviation, which is why entirely new standards, approval regulations and verification procedures must be defined for the safe operation of the new propulsion concept of the flying fuel cell.
When it comes to the approval of a flying fuel cell, all parties involved are entering uncharted territory, which is why we are seeking dialog with the certification bodies at such an early stage.—MTU’s Head of Quality Thomas Frank
In this way, Frank says, MTU is underscoring its pioneering role in this new technology.
We rely on a strong network of partnerships and research collaborations. Together with EASA, we are breaking new ground for a sustainable orientation of aviation.—Barnaby Law, Chief Engineer Flying Fuel Cell at MTU
MTU Aero Engines aims to advance a promising future option for zero-emission aviation with the flying fuel cell. Together with the German Aerospace Center DLR, the engine manufacturer is developing and validating a fuel cell powertrain. A Do228 aircraft will serve as a technology platform and flight demonstrator, equipped and tested in the coming years with a hydrogen-powered fuel cell and a single-sided electric propeller drive.
MTU Aero’s technology roadmap for lower emissions aviation has two main objectives. The first is to refine its Geared Turbofan with revolutionary propulsion concepts—e.g., the water-enhanced turbofan (WET), which uses “wet” combustion to cut NOx emissions and reduce contrails. The second is to electrify the powertrain as far as possible, e.g., with the flying fuel cell.