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Universal Hydrogen Successfully Completes First Flight of Hydrogen Regional Airliner

Universal Hydrogen Successfully Completes First Flight of Hydrogen Regional Airliner

Universal Hydrogen Co., flew a 40-passenger regional airliner using hydrogen fuel cell propulsion. The airplane, nicknamed Lightning McClean, took off at 8:41am PST from Grant County International Airport (KMWH) and flew for 15 minutes, reaching an altitude of 3,500 MSL. The flight, conducted under an FAA Special Airworthiness Certificate, was the first in a two-year flight test campaign expected to culminate in 2025 with entry into passenger service of ATR 72 regional aircraft converted to run on hydrogen.

Universal Hydrogen receives approval from FAA to begin flight tests(Opens in a new browser tab)

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Representatives from Connect Airlines and Amelia, the US and European launch customers for the hydrogen airplanes, respectively, were on hand to witness the historic flight. The company has a rapidly growing order book, today totaling 247 aircraft conversions from 16 customers worldwide, totaling over $1 billion in conversions backlog and over $2 billion in fuel services over the first ten years of operation.

The company’s powertrain is built around Plug Power’s ProGen family of fuel cells specially modified for aviation use. One of the unique aspects of the design is that the powertrain does not use a battery—the fuel cells drive the electric motor directly—drastically reducing weight and cost. The motor, a modified magni650 electric propulsion unit, and power electronics were supplied by Everett-based magniX. Seattle-based AeroTEC assisted with engineering efforts, including design of the modified nacelle structure, aircraft systems design and integration, as well as aircraft modifications and installation of the Universal Hydrogen powertrain onto the flight test aircraft, accomplished in less than 12 months.

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Airbus reveals hydrogen-powered zero-emission engine(Opens in a new browser tab)

The hydrogen-powered airplane is not just a revolutionary new product; it is a symbol of hope and progress, a beacon of light in a world that desperately needs it. Today marks a new chapter in the history of aviation and the fight against climate change. Universal Hydrogen is leading the charge, and the world is taking notice.

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Air France unveils the new cabin interiors on its Embraer 190 fleet

Air France unveils the new cabin interiors on its Embraer 190 fleet

At the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, on May 28, 2024, Air France made an exclusive debut of the revamped cabins set to grace all Embraer 190s operated by its regional subsidiary.

Commencing in autumn 2024, the first of these elegantly refurbished aircraft will take flight, marking a significant step in the airline’s commitment to elevating its short and medium-haul travel experience.

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With a focus on standardizing products and services, Air France has meticulously redesigned the Embraer 190 cabins to ensure passenger comfort, sustainability, and aesthetic appeal. The aircraft will boast 110 new seats arranged in a 2-2 configuration, each meticulously crafted with leather upholstery and ergonomic foam padding.

These seats offer enhanced comfort with a generous 46 cm seat pan, a recline of up to three inches, and features such as tray tables, optimized storage space, removable armrests, and coat hooks. Moreover, adjustable headrests and retractable holders with ribbed, non-slip surfaces for smartphones or tablets add a touch of convenience.

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For discerning Business customers, an exclusive cabin at the front of the aircraft will provide enhanced privacy and comfort. A mobile curtain separates this section from the rest of the cabin, and from January 2025, each Business customer will enjoy the luxury of an empty seat beside them.

Mirroring the Air France signature colors seen in Airbus A220 cabins, the Embraer 190 interiors will showcase shades of blue, accentuated by white for light and contrast, and touches of red symbolizing the airline’s excellence and expertise. The seat design, featuring symmetrical stitching and grey embroidery thread, ensures optimum comfort and style. Carbon fiber and titanium construction make the seats ultra-light yet robust, incorporating recycled components and minimal plastic.

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ATR Unveils Advanced Design of New All-Business Interior

ATR Unveils Advanced Design of New All-Business Interior

In a significant development at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2024, ATR has unveiled its cutting-edge All-Business Class configuration, a part of its ATR HighLine collection announced last year.

This innovative interior design, featuring a unique 1-1 layout, aims to redefine luxury in regional air travel. The All-Business Class interior, named ‘ETEREA’, is distinguished by its spacious individual business seats, each offering direct window views and aisle access.

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Designed by Geven, these tailor-made seats boast exceptional personal space and privacy, thanks to the ATR’s wider cross-section, which surpasses the comfort levels of narrower regional jets currently in operation.

The ETEREA seats, measuring a generous 21.6 inches in width, provide ample legroom and recline capabilities. Each seat is equipped with a personal side console that functions as both a table and a storage compartment. This thoughtful design maximizes convenience and comfort, catering to the needs of discerning business travelers.

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ATR’s All-Business Class interior offers several customization options, including an executive ceiling achieved by removing overhead bins, USB A+C charging ports, in-flight entertainment, high-speed internet access, and premium material finishes. These features collectively create an unparalleled in-flight experience, making regional travel more luxurious and efficient.

Berjaya Air, a Malaysia-based airline, will be the launch customer for the ATR 72-600 HighLine All-Business Class. Starting in 2025, Berjaya Air will deploy two customized aircraft to serve its luxury hotels and resorts. The modification of Berjaya Air’s aircraft will be executed through a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), ensuring the highest standards of safety and performance.

In addition to luxury and comfort, ATR HighLine-equipped aircraft are designed with sustainability in mind. Emitting 45% less CO2 than similar-sized jets, these aircraft are set to revolutionize the regional travel industry by promoting eco-friendly travel solutions and accelerating the decarbonization of regional air mobility.

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ATR’s new All-Business Class interior represents a significant leap forward in regional aviation, combining luxury, convenience, and sustainability. With the introduction of the ETEREA seats and the support of launch customer Berjaya Air, ATR is poised to set new standards in the aviation industry, offering an enhanced travel experience for business travelers worldwide.

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Comac Eyes Saudi Arabian Market to Challenge Western Aircraft Giants

Comac Eyes Saudi Arabian Market to Challenge Western Aircraft Giants

Chinese state-owned aircraft manufacturer Comac is setting its sights on Saudi Arabia as a strategic launch pad for its international ambitions.

The company is stepping up efforts to sell its aircraft overseas and penetrate a passenger jet market that has long been dominated by Western manufacturers, such as Airbus and Boeing. Comac’s Chairman Dongfeng He made his inaugural visit to Saudi Arabia this week, a significant follow-up to a visit by a Saudi delegation to Comac’s facilities in Shanghai in February.

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This reciprocal visit highlights the growing interest and potential partnership between Comac and Saudi Arabia. The centerpiece of Comac’s international strategy is the Comac C919, a narrowbody aircraft designed to compete directly with Airbus’ A320neo and Boeing’s 737 Max.

While the C919 has primarily received orders from China and Southeast Asia, Comac is now looking to expand its market reach into the Middle East. Speaking at an aviation conference in Riyadh, He expressed Comac’s vision of enhancing global connectivity and diversity by contributing to the development of Saudi Arabia’s aviation transportation.

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He detailed plans for improving connectivity within a 2,000-kilometer radius of Saudi Arabia, encompassing the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, Turkey, and North Africa. In addition to the C919, Comac has ambitions to launch a long-haul wide-body aircraft, the C929, which could support Saudi Arabia’s aspirations to become an international aviation hub. However, the C929 program has encountered delays and the aircraft has yet to make its maiden flight.

By focusing on Saudi Arabia, Comac aims to establish a foothold in a region that could serve as a gateway for further international expansion, positioning itself as a formidable competitor to Western aircraft manufacturers once it addresses remaining safety and technological concerns.

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