PHOTO CAPTION: Alpi Aviation Pioneer 300 will be equipped with fuel cell-powered electric drive.

Skyspark Plans Fuel-cell Flight in Italy

Based on the Alpi Pioneer 300, the Skyspark is expected to have a flight endurance of 35 minutes.

Published: 04-Feb-2009

A modified Alpi Aviation Pioneer 300 ultralight is expected to fly in June using only batteries. In December it will fly with just fuel cell-derived power.

Called Skyspark, the all-electric prototype is designed to demonstrate take-off and cruise flight using only fuel cell power. The June battery-powered flight is to test the aircraft's all-electric systems as a safety precaution before the fuel cell is used.

A Turin-based company built Skyspark's dedicated electric motor. Liquid-cooled, it can deliver peak power of 75kW, but normally produces 60kW. Its fuel cell, developed by Turin Polytechnic, has a stack of three 20kW cells. Skyspark's designers plan for it to have a 135kt (250km/h) cruise speed and a top speed of 172kt.


The plane was modified to include a hybrid battery and fuel cell system developed by UK firm Intelligent Energy.

A firm from France aims to fly a plane around the world powered by '100-per-cent clean' energy, two years before a rival Swiss team.

Recent events in the aviation world suggest that solar-powered aircraft are poised to literally -- and figuratively -- take off, including a record breaking flight over Yuma, Arizona by the Zephyr. Pictured is Solar Impulse concept.


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