VFS Hydrogen Initiatives

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Dec. 21, 2022 (Updated March 2023)

VFS is leading hydrogen aviation efforts 

Hydrogen (H2) has tremendous potential to revolutionize and decarbonize aviation. More importantly, hydrogen is a gamechanger for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft due to the significantly higher specific energy compared to batteries.

The Vertical Flight Society has been publishing news about hydrogen aviation developments since 2018, including in our free biweekly Electric VTOL News newsletter

Since 2020, VFS has supported a number of proactive initiatives in advancing hydrogen aviation, with a specific focus on hydrogen fuel cell developments for electric flight, beginning with the VFS H2eVTOL Council (2020-2022). This initiative spawned two ongoing efforts that continue today:

The educational and outreach efforts gave birth to the 501(3)(c) charitable, educational non-profit HYSKY Society, led by CEO Danielle McLean. HYSKY runs free monthly educational webinars, as well as podcasts, an annual FLYING HY in-person conference and an annual webinar on the US Dept. of Energy hydrogen hubs — learn more and consider signing up for their educational offerings.  

The VFS H2-Aero Team, chaired by Jesse Schneider, CEO of ZEV Station, leads technical and standards development initiatives. Schneider chairs the SAE International AE-5CH Hydrogen Airport Taskgroup — learn more and consider joining the task group. He also organizes and chairs the annual VFS H2-Aero Symposium. Plan to attend the next one, April 2–3, 2025 in Long Beach, California!

In 2022, VFS expanded its purview beyond just eVTOL to include all advanced air mobility (AAM) applications, including hydrogen-electric conventional and short takeoff and landing (eCTOL and eSTOL) aircraft. Read the Commentary: An Expanded View of Electric Flight, published in Vertiflite, May/June 2022.

H2-Aero Symposiums

Plug Power Tim Cortes video thumbnail (jpg)In March 2022, VFS held the first conference in North America on hydrogen for aviation. The 1st H2-Aero Symposium & Workshop was a great success! Video recordings of the event are available at no charge to all members and attendees, and presentation slides are available for purchase. You can also read the comprehensive symposium summary article in the May/June 2022 issue of Vertiflite: H2-Aero: Leading the Way to Carbon-Free Aviation (pdf). Check out this sample video recording from this inaugural H2-Aero Workshop, posted on the VFS YouTube Channel:Tim Cortes, CTO of Plug Power (24 minutes)

The 2nd Annual H2-Aero Symposium, was held March 28–30, 2023, in Long Beach, California — check out the PDFs and free video recordings. Read the Vertiflite summary article: H2-Aero Symposium: Zero Emissions Aircraft Take Flight

The 3rd Annual H2-Aero Symposium was held March 13-14, 2024 as a track at the SAE AeroTech conference in Charlotte, North Carolina — check out the PDFs and free video recordings. Read the Vertiflite summary article: 3rd Annual H2-Aero Symposium

Planning is now underway for the 4th Annual H2-Aero Symposium, April 2–3, 2025, in Long Beach, California. Save the date!

Visian for Hydrogen Aviation

There are many challenges in decarbonizing the aerospace industry, especially due to lightweighting and powertrain needs. Larger eVTOL aircraft that require more power for sustained flight need fuel cells with hydrogen combined with batteries to achieve zero-emission, all-electric, long-range flights.

Despite the clear advantages of utilizing hydrogen, it still hasn’t been adopted in aviation at large in North America. Both gaseous and liquid hydrogen are standardized, but not yet at scale or developed for use for aircraft. Other impediments include the lack of infrastructure, transporting hydrogen and high costs due to the prototype nature of the industry today.

Although multiple hydrogen consortia and government bodies have published roadmaps, and the UK and EU have made great strides in this area, there is little traction for hydrogen aviation in the US. The H2-Aero Team is engaging with the government, industry and academic organizations to bring H2 for eVTOL, eSTOL and eCTOL to the forefront — because aviation is one of the most challenging transportation industries to decarbonize and stands to benefit the most from hydrogen. Though the original VFS H2eVTOL Council was primarily focused on vertical flight, VFS and its partners have now embarked on a new mission to widen the scope towards finding a common hydrogen technology for aircraft and airports.

VFS formed the H2-Aero Team in 2022 to tackle these tough challenges, to be the US voice to bring hydrogen and aviation experts together with the goal of developing both a roadmap and a Public-Private Partnership with government and industry. VFS hopes to help accelerate the future of sustainable flight, towards commercialization of hydrogen aviation with this game-changing capability.

Updated April 14, 2024