Alternative propulsion passenger aircraft

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Spanish start-up aircraft manufacturer Dante Aeronautical has unveiled a concept for a 19-seat hydrogen-electric passenger aircraft designed for regional routes, with a view to launching the aircraft before the end of the decade.

One of its unique features could be that it would be one of the first in the world to use hydrogen fuel cells instead of batteries, if the technology is developed to the right level in time. Although there are only flashy graphics of the DAX-19 for now, they already show that the designers are thinking of a design that is a departure from the traditional, Flightglobal wrote.

The wings attached to the top of the fuselage would be pushed back, with four smaller electric motors on each, plus a more powerful one at the wingtips, and there would be a pusher propeller at the end of the fuselage, just behind the V-shaped control surface, and a smaller wing surface at the cockpit. With this new design and fuel cell propulsion, the DAX-19 would be capable of a range of nearly 1,000 kilometres.

The pitfalls of this radical departure from conventional forms were recently highlighted by another existing electric passenger aircraft, the Alice, but Miguel Madinabeitia, co-founder of Dante Aeronautical, stressed that the design is still at a very early stage and that they are trying to keep things as simple as possible. At the same time, the company already has cooperation agreements with several airlines, Air Nostrum, Volotea and Isla Air, which are providing data to support the development.

However, no serious interest in the future DAX-19, even in the form of a letter of intent, has yet been expressed. According to Madinabeitia, this will soon change, because electric aircraft, which are more economical to operate than the current small aircraft, could open up new horizons for all airlines, and for those operating the smallest aircraft, the conversion to such propulsion could already be worthwhile.

In fact, unlike many of its competitors, Dante Aeronautical is not only developing a completely new aircraft, but is also building a Cessna Caravan for Sydney Seaplanes, for example, to gain experience. In it, they are replacing the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 engine with a 500kW Magnix Magnfi500 engine.

It is planned to have all the regulatory approvals for the re-entry into service by 2024-25, after which a smaller twin-engine aircraft will be similarly upgraded. There is every chance of this, as another company has already converted a Caravan.

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