Destinus unveils supersonic hydrogen-powered plane at the Paris Air Show

First fully hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft planned to launch between 2030 and 2032.

Ameya Paleja Jun 20, 2023

European aerospace startup Destinus unveiled its third demonstrator plane, Destinus 3, at the Paris Air Show. The startup is working to build commercial hypersonic passenger aircraft fueled only by hydrogen.

We still do not know whether the future of aviation might be electric or powered by alternative fuels. Still, it will be supersonic

Long after Concorde ceased operations, the dream of supersonic flight for passenger travel is alive once again, hoping to make the world a smaller place.

Destinus has set its sights on a 2030 launch of a hydrogen-powered aircraft that will fly passengers between Frankfurt and Shanghai in just under three hours, saving eight hours when flying on a conventional plane.

The most interesting part about Destinus plans is that hydrogen as a fuel completely negates doubts about travel emissions.

Hydrogen-powered flight

Destinus has chosen hydrogen as a fuel since its calorific value is three times that of kerosene used in aircraft today.

Moreover, the fuel also has exceptional cooling capabilities making it an ideal fuel for combined-cycle engines. These engines consist of a turbojet capable of generating subsonic and supersonic speeds, and Destinus has also designed an afterburner that can provide additional thrust when required.

Destinus plans to launch its first fully hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft between 2030 and 2032. Dubbed Destinus S, the aircraft is planned to ferry 25 passengers and with a proposed cruise speed of Mach 5, it will be able to go faster than Concorde flights ever managed.

About a decade later, the company aims to introduce the Destinus L, the larger variant of its aircraft capable of carrying up to 400 passengers.

This aircraft is expected to travel between global destinations at speeds of Mach 6, powered by cryogenic hydrogen that will facilitate propulsion and cooling.

The work done so far

So far, Destinus has successfully demonstrated flight on its first prototype Destinus 1, a 13-feet (four-meter) vehicle also called Jungfrau. In October last year, the company demonstrated its nearly 33-feet (10 m) vehicle Eiger, a subsonic flight.

Last month, Destinus successfully flight-tested its hydrogen-fueled afterburner technology, which is also being featured on the Destinus 3.

“The propulsion system for Destinus 3 will incorporate a kerosene-fueled turbojet engine in conjunction with a liquid hydrogen-fueled afterburner,” said  Mikhail Kokorich, CEO of Destinus, in a press release. “We’re also developing plans to trial a fully hydrogen-based system for both turbojet and afterburner.”

Apart from the hydrogen fuel, Destinus will also showcase its novel autopilot system on this demonstrator. Flight campaigns using liquid hydrogen as a fuel are on track to begin in early 2024. It also involves using an innovative feed system featuring an electric pump. During the early stages, Destinus will attempt subsonic flight and aim for supersonic flight in the latter half of 2024.

When completed, Destinus 3 will be the first hydrogen-powered uncrewed aerial vehicle to reach speeds of Mach 1.3.

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