Largest Electric-Powered Aircraft Makes First Flight

DH8 electric plane

magniX, a manufacturer of electric propulsion solutions for the aviation industry, on Thursday launched the first electric-powered De Havilland Canada DHC8-Q300 (Dash 8) aircraft.

Universal Hydrogen’s hydrogen electric Dash 8 aircraft, which is the largest hydrogen fuel cell aircraft in the world, took off from Moses Lake, Washington, United States’ Grant County International Airport (MWH), where it flew for 15 minutes.

One of the Dash 8’s two conventional turboprop engines was switched out by Universal Hydrogen for a magni650 electric propulsion unit (EPU), which was powered by a hydrogen fuel cell system. The largest aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel cells in the world is the Dash 8.

“This is the first hydrogen airplane to be powered by a magniX EPU and we are delighted to be leading the aerospace industry once again,” said Nuno Taborda, CEO at magniX. “Hydrogen has never enjoyed greater mindshare and we have witnessed many governments laying out ambitious strategies to harness it. Passing this milestone with Universal Hydrogen furthers our mission to accelerate the adoption of zero-carbon flight.”

The flight-tested EPUs from magniX can be powered by any electric power source because they are electron agnostic. The De Havilland Beaver seaplane (2019), the Cessna Grand Caravan (2020), the Robinson 44 helicopter (2022), and the Eviation Alice (2022)—the first flight-tested all-electric commuter airplane—have all been powered by magniX.

As an addition to its battery electric and hybrid electric systems, magniX recently announced plans to develop hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen has a high energy density and zero carbon emissions when used, making it suitable for powering larger electric aircraft.

“Hydrogen fuel cells are an important next step in the electric age of aviation, enabling us to electrify bigger aircraft and to achieve longer ranges,” said Riona Armesmith, Chief Technology Officer at magniX. “This landmark flight is a crucial step towards reaching that goal. We are very excited for the potential of hydrogen to shape the culture of aerospace. I am very pleased to congratulate Universal Hydrogen on this significant achievement.”

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