Brisbane-based Stralis Aircraft has taken another step towards its goal of operating Australia’s first hydrogen-electric demonstrator flight in 2024.
Stralis is working with the iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and QUT to install a hydrogen-electric propulsion system (HEPS) into a Beechcraft Bonanza A36 aircraft. The company claims hydrogen planes could transport athletes around Queensland during the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.
“Our vision at Stralis is to lead the aviation industry into a sustainable future. We’re not just creating hydrogen aircraft; we’re redefining what air travel can be – cleaner, more efficient, and fundamentally eco-friendly,” said Stralis CEO Bob Criner.
“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.”
Stralis will provide architectural details for the HEPS and the aircraft, as well as its aviation expertise, while QUT’s team – which is experienced with hydrogen, fuel cells, and power electronics – will assist in modelling, implementation and testing.
“Fuel cells and similar technologies at the heart of hydrogen electric propulsion systems are still evolving,” said QUT’s project lead, Associate Professor Geoff Walker of the School of Electrical Engineering and Robotics.
“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.”
Stralis plans to integrate a HEPS and liquid hydrogen fuel tank into Beechcraft 1900D turboprop planes for Queensland-based regional carrier Skytrans, which is looking to fly commercial hydrogen flights between Brisbane and Gladstone by 2026.
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to airlines, with Qantas pushing for more use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) made from agricultural waste, and Rex taking a 20 per cent stake in electric aviation firm Dovetail.
Airbus last year partnered with Perth-based renewable energy company Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) to collaborate on the development of hydrogen-focused low emission solutions for the aviation sector, in a deal aimed at supporting the entry-into-service of Airbus’ ZEROe hydrogen-powered aircraft by 2035 to help achieve net-zero emissions targets.