Australia’s first hydrogen-powered aircraft to fly in 2024

345
Image credit: Stralis

iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) has teamed up with Stralis Aircraft and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in a research project that will launch Australia’s first hydrogen-powered aircraft in 2024. 

The project, which marks a significant milestone in Australia’s journey towards sustainable aviation, will integrate a hydrogen-electric propulsion system (HEPS) into a Beechcraft Bonanza A36 aircraft. 

Stralis, an aircraft manufacturing company based in Brisbane, is leading the HEPS and aircraft retrofit development. The company will present the aircraft to world leaders and global business elites should Australia succeed in its bid to co-host COP2026. 

The aircraft is also expected to transport athletes around Queensland during the Brisbane Olympics in 2032. 

“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. 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,” said Bob Criner, CEO of Stralis. 

As part of the project, QUT will significantly contribute to modelling, implementing, and testing the system design and performance. With experience in hydrogen, fuel cells, and power electronic systems, the university’s team will play a crucial role in the modelling, implementation, and testing of the system design and performance. 

QUT will use the project’s outcomes for broader research into hydrogen-based energy systems and incorporate the findings into their educational programs, particularly in the Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Renewable Energy programs. 

The outcomes from the project will also inform short-term and long-term technology development programs, including the Bonanza A36 technology demonstrator program and future aircraft programs. 

“The collaboration between iMOVE, Stralis, and QUT exemplifies the power of partnership in driving innovation. By combining expertise in research, technology, and industry knowledge, this project is poised to make a significant impact on Australia’s aviation industry and contribute to global efforts in reducing carbon emissions,” said Ian Christensen, managing director of iMOVE CRC.