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Plug Power invests in Airflow to boost fuel cell development
Airflow has secured over $600 million in letters of intent from eleven airlines. It intends to accelerate bringing carbon-neutral aircraft to market by offering the best propulsion solution to an airline's needs.
Airflow and Plug Power will integrate and test a full scale, ground-based powertrain prototype that could be retrofitted into an aircraft and be certified.
Read this story in our November 2021 printed issue.

Airflow has received an investment from Plug Power, a provider of hydrogen engines and fuelling solutions. The companies will co-develop and certify a hydrogen fuel cell-based propulsion system designed for a new generation of sub-regional aircraft. Working with Airflow is part of Plug Power's ongoing strategy to bring its hydrogen ProGen fuel cell technology to new markets, including a variety of aircraft types within the aerospace industry.

California-based eSTOL manufacturer Airflow has recently secured over $600 million in letters of intent from eleven airlines operating sub-regional aircraft. It intends to accelerate bringing the carbon-neutral aircraft to market, by offering airlines several options to match the best propulsion solution to their missions. This flexibility enables Airflow to meet customer demand and broaden the application of hydrogen as well as other carbon-neutral propulsion solutions including batteries and SAF hybrid solutions. Plug Power will serve as Airflow's preferred hydrogen provider, opening up more opportunities to co-locate its hydrogen refuelling infrastructure at customer airports. This work is an extension of Plug Power's ongoing partnership with Albany International airport in New York where their hydrogen fuel cell solutions power ground support equipment.

Since partnering with other aerospace pioneers including Universal Hydrogen, Plug Power says it has embarked on a rigorous effort to adapt its ProGen-based hydrogen fuel cell stack specifically for aerospace applications. This technology enables the Airflow Model 200 aircraft to fly missions of up to 500 miles with nine passengers or 2,000 pounds of cargo, with zero carbon emissions.

As part of this programme, Airflow and Plug Power will integrate and test a full scale, ground-based powertrain prototype that could be retrofitted into an aircraft with the ultimate goal of certification.

“Over the last several years we've been increasing our commitment to the aerospace market. From our investment in and partnership with Universal Hydrogen to our acquisition of EnergyOr, we know that ensuring our ProGen solutions meet the ultra-lightweight and rigorous certification requirements of aviation is essential to our ownership of this opportunity,” says Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh. “Airflow represents another vital leg of the stool in our aerospace strategy. In order to establish a complete ecosystem for the aviation market and enable a global transportation system powered by green hydrogen, it's essential that we work with players across aircraft classes who deeply understand the unique applicability of hydrogen in an industry as weight-sensitive as aviation. We see the development and certification of a system for Airflow's Part 23 aircraft as an ideal entry point into the aerospace market that enables expansion into larger aircraft programmes.”

“Plug Power is a welcome and natural partner in the clean aviation movement. Not only can it produce and supply affordable green hydrogen at scale, but it is at the forefront of supporting the experienced aerospace companies tackling the variety of missions and aircraft classes required to ensure our industry quickly improves its carbon footprint,” adds Airflow CEO and co-founder Marc Ausman. “This initial investment from Plug Power is important to our ongoing development work at Airflow, and we're thrilled to have an industry leader in the hydrogen economy supporting our ambitious objectives. We see hydrogen fuel cell technology as a key thrust of our next generation power systems, which along with sustainable aviation fuel-based hybrid systems and advanced battery systems, allow us to provide flexibility to our customers to deliver an aircraft that best meets their individual mission needs and sustainability goals.”

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