CAeS confirmed as preferred supplier of hydrogen fuel cell propulsion systems to Dronamics

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) and Dronamics have signed an MoU to progress the application of CAeS’ hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system to the Dronamics Black Swan cargo drone aircraft.

Dronamics' Black Swan cargo drone aircraft
Dronamics' Black Swan cargo drone aircraft - Dronamics

This agreement confirms CAeS as the preferred supplier of hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) propulsion systems to Dronamics and includes a letter of intent to supply propulsion systems from 2026, bringing CAeS’s total pipeline to over 1300 drivetrains.

In a statement, Paul Hutton, CEO of CAeS, said: “The selection as preferred supplier of hydrogen fuel-cell powerplants for the Dronamics Black Swan fleet is testament to the exceptional technology that our team has developed and also to our aircraft integration design capabilities.

“We have now demonstrated that we can adapt and integrate our modular hydrogen propulsion technology into different platforms, opening up much wider market opportunities to exploit further the CAeS gaseous HFC aircraft propulsion systems from 2026.”

Since November 2022 the companies have collaborated on a feasibility study for the application of CAeS’s HFC technology into Dronamics’ flagship Black Swan cargo drone aircraft, which can carry 350kg for up to 2,500km.

The study concluded that the CAeS HFC system meets the required payload, cargo volume and range for the Black Swan aircraft. Consequently, CAeS will develop an STC (Supplemental Type Certificate) equivalent modification pack for the Black Swan to convert existing conventionally powered versions of the aircraft to a zero emissions HFC variant in accordance with CS23 aircraft design standards.

The resultant HFC propulsion system is a half-scale version of the 250kW system being developed under Project Fresson, which is converting the nine-seat Britten-Norman Islander aircraft to hydrogen fuel cell propulsion, validating the ability of the CAeS HFC technology to be adapted to different platform requirements.

Dronamics CEO Svilen Rangelov said: “The prospect of running flights with their emissions-free propulsion system helps further solidify our position as a frontrunner in the cargo drone market.”