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Various companies around the world are exploring new energy solutions for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with increased endurance. A new China-developed hydrogen fuel UAV has recently conducted a successful maiden flight. The new energy battery-powered demonstration UAV, known as LQ-H, was developed by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), which is also the developer of China’s C919 large passenger airplane.
Through iterative evolution, the endurance of the LQ-H aircraft is expected to reach 24 hours.
“It is one of the major research directions of global aviation industry to construct a low-carbon sustainable transportation system by utilizing hydrogen energy,” said Yang Zhigang, pre-research chief designer of Beijing Aeronautical Science and Technology Research Institute of COMAC.
With a wingspan of 6 meters, LQ-H uses a hydrogen fuel cell for its main power and a lithium battery as supplementary power.
The flight was conducted at an airport in Zhengzhou in central China’s Henan province.
The steady test flight has given sufficient verification to the hydrogen fuel-cell systems it uses, COMAC said.
The demonstration UAV model uses multiple new technologies, such as 3D printing and compound materials, to lower its weight and pave the way for new-technology application in further manufacturing.
The LQ-H series technical demonstration aircraft includes four configurations — fixed and retractable landing gears, and three different empennage types.
The LQ-H series was jointly developed by a research team from subsidiaries of COMAC and State Power Corporation Limited, according to chinadailyhk.com.
More new configurations and technologies of the LQ-H series will be developed through the new energy-powered aircraft as a platform. Moreover, plans for its industrialization development are underway, according to COMAC.
The LQ-H have different tails and types of landing gear. The aircraft, developed for the purpose of verification at present, has completed 10 test flights since January 2019, and the latest success means substantial progress has been made in developing new-energy, civil aircraft, according to COMAC.