A landmark test has been conducted at Brisbane Airport, with the first successful on-aircraft spin of an electric motor.

The trial signifies a critical advancement in the journey by Stralis, a leading Australian cleantech company, towards conducting the inaugural test flight slated for later in 2024. 

Progress by Stralis is starting to garner attention on the world stage, with its co-founder and CEO, Bob Criner, recently invited to The White House in Washington DC as part of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s official US State Visit in October 2023 and to COP28 in Dubai in December 2023. 

The company’s innovative approach involves utilising a Bonanza A36-HE as a test platform, paving the way for the retrofit of a 15-seat Beech 1900D aircraft intended for the first passenger flights between Brisbane Airport and Gladstone Airport in 2026, operated by launch customer Skytrans. 

Both cities, Brisbane and Gladstone, are at the forefront of green hydrogen development, positioning them as ideal launch points for Australia’s first hydrogen electric aircraft route.  

These flights are poised to operate with zero carbon emissions, with the only byproduct being water vapour, a significant leap in reducing environmental impact. 

“This successful test marks an unparalleled achievement, not just for Stralis but for the entire Australian aviation sector. Running an electric motor with a power to weight above ten kW/kg on an aircraft is a crucial milestone that propels us closer to witnessing this test aircraft take to the skies safely later this year,” Mr Criner said.

Efforts by Stralis at Brisbane Airport are bolstered by the support of the Hydrogen Flight Alliance, a partner in cultivating the green hydrogen flight ecosystem necessary for the aviation industry’s technological evolution, and Aviation Australia, a leading aviation provider who hosts Stralis at their Brisbane Airport training facility. 

Executive General Manager of Aviation at Brisbane Airport, Ryan Both, said, “This test represents a significant leap towards cleaner, more cost-effective, and quieter aviation. Providing emissions-free access to regional Queensland is an exciting prospect, aligning with Brisbane Airport’s commitment to sustainability.” 

Queensland’s strategic significance in spearheading these pioneering tests stems from its role in the hydrogen industry, as well as its decentralised population which makes regional aviation critical to the people of Queensland.  

Cairns based regional airline, Skytrans, welcomed news of the test.

Skytrans Group CEO, Alan Milne, said “This is an exciting step and Skytrans is looking forward to taking the lead for regional airlines in Australia with zero emission aviation.” 

Featured image: Stralis aircraft at Brisbane Airport. Image credit: Stralis.

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