World’s first 4-seater fuel-cell plane takes off in Germany

Aircraft engineers in Germany have successfully tested the world’s first four-seater plane that uses emission-free hybrid fuel cells to fly.

The 10-minute test flight Thursday at Stuttgart Airport in southwestern Germany involved two pilots and two dummy passengers.

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The twin-cabin plane, known as HY4, was developed by aircraft maker Pipistrel, fuel cell specialist Hydrogenics, the University of Ulm and the German Aerospace Center DLR.

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It uses hydrogen to generate electricity in-flight, giving it a cruising speed of 165 kilometres per hour (102.5 mph) and a range of up to 1,500 kilometres (932 miles), while relying on batteries for take-off and landing.

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Boeing and Airbus have also tested smaller fuel cell planes in recent years as the aircraft industry searches for ways to reduce emissions.