Boeing has flown the first manned airplane powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The plane was engineered at Boeing Research & Technology Europe in Madrid, Spain with help from industry partners in Austria, France, Germany, Spain, the UK and the U.S. The plane is a two-seat Demona motor glider with a 53-ft wingspan. Diamond Aircraft Industries of Austria built the plane to include a proton exchange membrane fuel cell/lithium-ion battery hybrid system that powers an electric motor coupled with a conventional propeller.
During three test flights in February and March, the airplane climbed to an altitude of 3,300 ft. After reaching cruising altitude and disconnecting the batteries, the pilot flew straight and level at a cruising speed of 62 mph for 20 minutes on power solely provided by the fuel cells. Boeing sees the potential to use fuel cell power for small manned and unmanned air vehicles.
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