Lightning McClean Lands in Mojave

Lightning McClean Lands in Mojave
Travel: Universal Hydrogen’s Lightning McClean aircraft on the tarmac at the Mojave Air & Space Port.

Lightning McClean has landed at the Mojave Air & Space Port.

Designed and developed by Universal Hydrogen Co., the Dash-8 modified 40-passenger regional airliner, powered on one side by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain, has come to the Kern County spaceport to conduct test flights. 

The Hawthorne-based Universal Hydrogen said that moving the aircraft and flight test activities to Mojave from Washington State represents a substantial increase in its presence in the state.

Mark Cousin, chief technology officer the company, said that in the company’s pursuit to decarbonize aviation its move to take flight testing to Mojave brings the plane closer to its headquarters in Hawthorne, ensuring optimal coordination among teams.

“Our calculated testing strategy guarantees the safety of our converted aircraft, propelling us towards our goal to have it in service within the next two years,” Cousin said in a statement.

Since its initial successful flight test in March, Universal Hydrogen has achieved four subsequent flights, maintaining its planned trajectory for the two-year flight test campaign expected to culminate in 2025.

During its second flight, the aircraft achieved a 30-minute flight at 170 knots of indicated airspeed, ascending to 5,000 feet. Further strides were made in the third and fourth flight tests on June 12, during which the aircraft reached altitudes of 10,000 feet. 

Lightning McClean carried out the test flights at Moses Lake, Washington, before setting out on its flight to Mojave in late June. 

The aircraft traveled down the west coast with four stops across Oregon and California, covering a distance of more than 800 nautical miles, Universal Hydrogen said. 

Tim Reid, general manager of the Mojave Air & Space Port, said that Universal Hydrogen’s arrival is a big win for the local community.

“With their research and development, Universal Hydrogen’s technology will be a total game changer for zero-emission flight within the next decade, meeting the environmental goals of California while advancing the industry with a new, sustainable energy source” he said. 

David Hochschild, chairman of the California Energy Commission, said that Universal Hydrogen is proving that true zero emission is achievable with renewable hydrogen even in a sector like aviation that is difficult to decarbonize.

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