“Yet Another Historic Aviation Milestone Has Been Reached in the State of Washington,” Cantwell Says After Moses Lake Test of Hydrogen-Powered Plane

The 40-seat aircraft is by far the largest to fly using zero-emission hydrogen; One day, every regional flight in Washington state could be served by plane’s 600-mile range

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, offered congratulations to Universal Hydrogen (UH2) and other Washington state aviation pioneers like MagniX, AeroTEC, and Plug Power after the successful first test flight of an aircraft using their hydrogen-powered regional aircraft conversion kit in Washington state this morning.  

The flight of the retrofitted De Havilland Canada Dash 8-300 took place at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake. As the largest airplane to fly on fuel cells and cruise entirely on hydrogen, the flight represents a significant milestone in the development of sustainable aviation technology. Last September, Moses Lake was also the site of the first ever test flight for “Alice,” a nine-seater all-electric commuter airplane prototype built by the Washington state aerospace company Eviation.

"Yet another historic aviation milestone has been reached in the State of Washington,” said Sen. Cantwell. “Today’s test flight shows how the U.S. can lead the way in innovative aviation technologies to decarbonize air travel, which accounts for around 11% of our nation’s transportation carbon emissions.”

During today’s test flight, the 84-foot-long Dash 8-300 achieved an altitude of 3,500 feet, flying for approximately 15 minutes. Alex Kroll, an experienced former U.S. Air Force test pilot who was also a flight test pilot on the new B-21 bomber program, piloted the craft.

As converted with UH2’s hydrogen fuel system, the Dash 8-300 could hold 40 passengers and has a potential flight distance of 600 miles, meaning that it could fly all regional flights within Washington state, emissions-free.

UH2 is working to complete rigorous testing plans with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure flight safety and establish new rules and regulations governing hydrogen flight. Ultimately, this could lead to FAA certification and commercial service by the end of this decade.

Sen. Cantwell has been a strong advocate for sustainable aviation and has worked on several legislative initiatives including securing $297 million for the Sustainable Aviation Fuel and Low-Emissions Aviation Technology Grant Program, now known as the Fueling Aviation’s Sustainable Transition (FAST) program, which was enacted in the Inflation Reduction Act. She also partnered with her Senate colleagues to introduce the Sustainable Skies Act in 2019 which would have provided a tax credit to suppliers of sustainable aviation fuel. As Senate Commerce Committee Chair, Cantwell will lead Congressional efforts this year to reauthorize the FAA and spur the adoption of more environmentally friendly and technologically advanced aviation options.