Feeds

Boeing's Honda-FCX-style fuel cell glider 'success'

Electric plane in Spain seems mainly inane

Intelligent flash storage arrays

US aerospace colossus Boeing has at last successfully trialled a manned fuel-cell hybrid electric plane produced by its Spanish research facility, according to reports.

The company told Flight International that it had carried out several test flights in the vicinity of Ocaña airfield south of Madrid. A modified motor-glider powered solely by a fuel cell sustained level flight at 3,300 feet for 20 minutes, travelling at 54 knots. Supplementary power from a lithium-ion battery was necessary for climb performance.

Boeing Research & Technology Europe (BR&TE), based in Madrid, has been working on the "Fuel Cell Demonstrator Airplane" (FCDA) since 2001. The sole goal of the programme is to "demonstrate for the first time that a manned airplane can maintain a straight level flight with fuel cells as the only power source".

One should note that this isn't a very ambitious technical feat. A manned aeroplane can maintain straight and level flight powered only by the muscles of its pilot.

FCDA flight tests were initially planned for 2004. They then slipped to 2005, and a year ago Boeing was predicting success by the end of 2007.

The FCDA's mildly pointless goal has now belatedly been achieved, but this doesn't herald a brave new world of hydrogen-powered hybrid electric planes. There is a niche for fuel-cells in powering aircraft, but it involves extending the endurance of small low-powered electric unmanned jobs - not carrying people.

Boeing's only realistic hope for fuel cells in manned aircraft is that they might one day replace the gas-turbine auxiliary generators fitted to airliners for powering their electrical systems. Even that seems a long way off.

The Flight report can be read here. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.