Antares is the world's first piloted aircraft capable of taking off using fuel cell propulsion. The maiden flight of this high-tech motorglider is scheduled to take place in May 2009. The aircraft is based on the Antares 20E motorglider. In cooperation with Lange Aviation GmbH, DLR has installed a 20-kW fuel cell system and hydrogen tanks underneath the specially strengthened wings. In this way, the fuel cell system can supply sufficient energy for the operation of the aircraft's engine, propeller and on-board electronics. This enables Antares to take off and fly with zero emissions. In the future it will be possible to carry out the necessary tests for the further development of fuel cell technology in aviation more quickly and cost-efficiently by using the motorglider instead of DLR's large Airbus A320 ATRA research aircraft, which already has a fuel cell system that can take over the on-board power supply in case of an emergency.
Credit: DLR/Flughafen Stuttgart.