SINGAPORE-BASED researcher and developer of high performance hydrogen fuel cell propulsion systems for aerial platforms, HES Energy Systems, is expanding to France to work on the first decentralised hydrogen infrastructure for autonomous fuel cell powered aerial vehicles.
The move is part of HES’ broader goals to introduce long range zero emission aviation powered by renewable hydrogen, which it claims is “the most energy dense element in the universe”.
Thinking big yet starting small, the same company that started introducing its range-extending propulsion technology to small drones several years ago is now evolving towards manned aerial platforms, such as flying cars and inter-urban electric aircraft.
From its lab in Singapore, HES has spent the last 10 years developing advanced ultra-light hydrogen propulsion systems that are up to 10 times lighter than batteries. Following a number of international experiments powering small unmanned aircraft for record durations, HES’s systems are now being scaled up to power larger manned electric aircraft, potentially revolutionising aerial logistics and mobility – increasing their flight range while eliminating carbon emissions.
A subsidiary of H3 Dynamics, HES is part of the France-Singapore innovation link that continues to intensify between both countries. Last year H3 Dynamics set the tone by opening its European headquarters in Paris with the hearty welcome of French President Emmanuel Macron. HES is now following suit and joining forces with France’s aerospace and hydrogen eco-system.
As part of its set up in France, HES is announcing its partnership with France’s leading professional unmanned aircraft builder, delair, and ERGOSUP, a French start-up developing energy-efficient hydrogen production systems.
Derived from a broader 2016 French National Call for Projects looking to deploy hydrogen technologies into airport applications in Toulouse, HES’s partnership will focus on creating infrastructure around smaller-scale hydrogen unmanned aircraft.
“Starting with smaller scale aerial vehicles help turn bigger visions to reality faster, and reduces the challenges related to commercialising complex technology” said Taras Wankewycz, CEO of HES and parent company H3 Dynamics.
HES plans to scale up the program to a continental network of hydrogen air bases for a fleet of autonomous, long-range and electric aircraft. The joint initiative will create economic and social benefits, Mr Wankewycz said, while starting the path to reducing carbon emissions in aviation.
“We are proud to start our initiatives in France and we look forward to bright outcomes together with our partners,” Mr Wankewycz said. “This is a major step toward an exciting prospect: zero emission aerial mobility”.
Aligning well with HES’s roadmap, more than50 global leaders in the energy, transport, and industrial sectors, led by the CEO and chairman of Air Liquide and the chairman of Hyundai, came together on September 14 to announce their landmark commitment to 100 percent decarbonized hydrogen for all mobility applications by 2030.
France’s government has meanwhile launched a national hydrogen plan to utilize hydrogen across all sectors.
AIR TRANSPORT in remote and regional Australia is set to be transformed by a new satellite positioning technology currently being trialled by Geoscience Australia.
The aviation trial is one of 25 currently being run across the country.
Airservices is leading the Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) project on behalf of the aviation industry, fitting SBAS technology into aircraft and testing it across regional Australia.
An operational SBAS would improve safety by guiding pilots with greater accuracy, especially those flying into regional aerodromes operating under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). SBAS technology provides accurate guidance for landing procedures at regional aerodromes where ground infrastructure may not be as advanced as that used at larger airports.
Geoscience Australia's SBAS project manager, John Dawson said SBAS-assisted aircraft approaches were eight times safer than those that use ground-based navigation aids.
“This could mean a pilot can now attempt a landing without visuals down to 200 feet,” Dr Dawson said.
“The safety and efficiency benefits this technology provides will result in fewer flights being cancelled or diverted, and can also reduce the number of landing attempts flights may need to make during poor weather.”
This will be of particular benefit to services like the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which provides emergency medical transport and primary health care to rural and remote Australia, and often needs to undertake landings in varying weather conditions and at small, remote airfields and other locations where infrastructure and technology is limited.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, Geoscience Australia CEO James Johnson, and Airservices Australia CEO Jason Harfield, hosted an event at Canberra International Airport in April to demonstrate the technology to representatives from the aviation industry and media.
The event provided an opportunity for pilots to talk about how the technology would help Australian aviation. Aircraft present at the event included the Toll Air Ambulance, used for patient rescue, retrieval and treatment, in communities in New South Wales and the ACT, and an aircraft used by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The aviation component of the trial will test two technologies: first and second generation SBAS.
Airservices Australia will receive up to $310,000 in funding from the Australian and New Zealand Governments to trial the technology.
The broader two-year SBAS trial program includes projects in the agriculture, construction, consumer and utilities, resources, spatial and transport industries. It is being funded with $12 million from the Australian Government and a further $2 million from the New Zealand Government.
LEADERS of Australia’s General Aviation (GA) Advisory Group has presented a plan to the Federal Government to help ensure the sector’s future, highlighting three priority areas.
Priorities are to develop a broad long term strategic perspective for GA; propose how air safety regulation can support GA through clear, consistently applied, and proportionally responsive administration; and maintain and enhance GA industry capability, through workforce development and access to airspace and infrastructure.
GA Advisory Group chair and Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia CEO, Martin Laverty said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael McCormack had “given the GA Advisory Group freedom to identify our own opportunities for growth and to present its ideas on solutions to some of our challenges”.
Mr McCormack received the General Aviation Flight Plan from sector leaders in Canberra.
“The GA Advisory Group was established by the then-Minister Darren Chester in October 2016, to provide the very diverse GA sector with a forum to advise the government on its priorities,” Mr McCormack said.
“I welcome the establishment of the GA Flight Plan and I have asked the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to work with the Group in responding to these priorities.
“To ensure the group is able to complete the work outlined in the GA Flight Plan, the group’s membership and operations will continue for a further two years and I look forward to working constructively with the Group during this period.”
Dr Laverty thanked the Deputy Prime Minister for his strong backing of the GA industry.
“He has welcomed the Flight Plan, which addresses critical issues of regulatory burden and ensuring sufficient workforce to keep Australians flying,” Dr Laverty said.
CASA CEO and director of Aviation Safety, Shane Carmody welcomed the opportunity to work closely with the GA Advisory Group and to strengthen the safety regulator’s ties with GA.
“I’m pleased to have met with the GA Advisory Group, and to plan to use it as an ongoing reference group on safety regulatory issues relating to the GA sector,” Mr Carmody said.