Stralis Aircraft plans maiden flight in 2024 for aircraft retrofitted with hydrogen system

Stralis Aircraft plans maiden flight in 2024 for aircraft retrofitted with hydrogen system

Stralis Aircraft's proposed 15-seat Beechcraft 1900 hydrogen-powered plane set to enter service in 2026

Brisbane-based Stralis Aircraft is gearing up for a maiden flight in 2024 of Australia’s first retrofitted hydrogen propulsion system as the company progresses plans for a sustainable future in aviation.

The upcoming maiden flight of the Beechcraft Bonanza A36 has been described as a significant milestone for the project, which is led by Stralis with the support of QUT and the federally funded iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre.

The program is also supported by the Hydrogen Flight Alliance, which was launched this year on a mission to facilitate Australia’s first commercial emission-free hydrogen powered flight between Brisbane and Gladstone in 2026.

Leveraging the Google X and Airbus background of CEO and co-founder Bob Criner, Stralis Aircraft’s roadmap includes retrofitting a Beechcraft 1900 aircraft and designing a new 50-seat aircraft.

The 15-seat B1900 has a range of 800km with plans to enter service in 2026 for launch customer Skytrans, which operates services in Far North Queensland from Cairns to Cape York and Torres Strait.

The company says it aims to showcase hydrogen-electric aircraft to world leaders and global business elites should Australia succeed in its bid to co-host COP2026.

“Our vision at Stralis is to lead the aviation industry into a sustainable future” says Criner.

“We're not just creating hydrogen aircraft; we're redefining what air travel can be – cleaner, more efficient, and fundamentally eco-friendly.

“Our approach is unique – not just focusing on the technology, but also on how it can be rapidly implemented and scaled. This is how we're going to make a substantial difference in reducing aviation's carbon footprint rapidly.”

QUT's involvement is crucial in modelling, implementing and testing the system design and performance, drawing on the team’s experience with hydrogen, fuel cells and power electronic systems.

The university also plans to use the project's outcomes for broader research into hydrogen-based energy systems and incorporate these findings into its educational programs.

“Fuel cells and similar technologies at the heart of hydrogen electric propulsion systems are still evolving,” says QUT project lead Associate Professor Geoff Walker.

“Creating a detailed, accurate simulation model will allow Stralis to make rapid design and operational choices, trade-offs and optimisations vital in this fast-moving project.”

Ian Christensen, the managing director of iMOVE, says the collaboration exemplifies the power of partnership in driving innovation.

“By combining expertise in research, technology, and industry knowledge, this project is poised to make a significant impact on Australia's aviation industry and contribute to global efforts in reducing carbon emissions,” says Christensen.

The partners say the venture, including including the Bonanza A36 technology demonstrator program, promises to ‘redefine aircraft propulsion systems and set new benchmarks in sustainable aviation’.

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