Electric-powered flight pioneer Lange Aviation is developing a fuel cell-powered unmanned air vehicle technology demonstrator with an undisclosed partner.
The UAV, called H3, will be optionally manned to enable safe test flights and could pave the way for H4, a long-endurance fuel cell-powered UAV product being planned by Zweibrucken, Germany based-Lange.
Lange has already worked on a fuel cell aircraft with the German Aerospace Agency DLR, based on the company's Antares motor glider product and called the H2. The Antares DLR-H2 flew for the first time in 2008. It was developed to test fuel cell technology for possible future auxiliary power units on board Airbus airliners.
The Antares DLR-H2 flew for the first time in 2008
Lange's chief executive Axel Lange has no immediate intention to design a battery-powered general aviation aircraft: "When battery energy density doubles then I will be interested."
His company was the first in Europe to sell a battery-powered motor-glider, the Antares 20E, when serial production began in 2005. Lange says that the 20E's electric engine has been certificated by the European Aviation Safety Agency for the very light aircraft class, which has a maximum mass of 750kg (1,650lb) and can carry two people. Lange provides its electric engine technology to Schempp-Hirth for its Arcus E product.