Wingcopter, ZAL GmbH to develop hydrogen power for delivery drones
March 30, 2023 By Helicopters Staff
Wingcopter, the German developer and operator of delivery drones, and Hamburg-based ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research GmbH announced a development partnership to explore the potential of green hydrogen to power Wingcopter’s drones, which are currently purely electric, and develop a hydrogen-based propulsion system. The propulsion system is ultimately expected to be produced by Wingcopter itself and installed in its delivery drones.
Wingcopter explains, that by refitting the battery-powered Wingcopter 198 to run on hydrogen, the plan is for the drone to not only continue to fly emission-free in the future, but to become more powerful. The company explains its aircraft already achieves higher ranges and speeds than most competitors’ models based on the added lift of its wings and its aerodynamic design. However, Wingcopter explains hydrogen propulsion could ensure even longer flight times.
The project-related modification of the Wingcopter will take place at ZAL‘s Fuel Cell Lab in Hamburg. As part of the development partnership, a solution is being developed that will fit into the existing technical ecosystem of the Wingcopter delivery drone while preserving the characteristic flight capabilities of the Wingcopter.
“We have always wanted the Wingcopter to be able to fly even further,” said Wingcopter co-founder and CEO Tom Plümmer. “However, we categorically ruled out the installation of a conventional combustion engine right from the start with a view to the environment and climate change.”
In the past, ZAL engineers have already been able to achieve a flight duration of more tha two hours with the company’s own ZALbatros hydrogen drone. This was achieved using compressed gaseous hydrogen in combination with a fuel cell. A comparable technology will also be used in the Wingcopter.
“With Wingcopter as our partner, we’re not only impressed by their drones’ flight performance, but also by their clear vision of how urban air mobility and especially drone delivery can help improve people’s lives,” said Roland Gerhards, CEO of ZAL GmbH. “This aligns perfectly with ZAL’s values. With our expertise, we want to convert the Wingcopter to hydrogen and thus strengthen the Hamburg UAM network Windrove with another flagship project.”
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