Cranfield and Dronamics continue hydrogen fuel cell work


Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) is to continue work on integrating its hydrogen propulsion system with Dronamics’ Black Swan cargo drone. 

The two firms signed a second memorandum of understanding (MoU) which confirms CAeS as the preferred supplier of hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) propulsion systems to Dronamics. The agreement also includes a letter of intent to supply a “substantial” undisclosed number of propulsion systems from 2026.

Since November last year the two firms have been working on a feasibility study looking at the integration of the fuel cell system into Dronamics’ Black Swan platform, which is capable of carrying 350kg for up to 2,500km. The study found it would be well suited to meet the required payload, cargo volume and range for the Black Swan aircraft.

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.”

Under a supplemental type certificate, CAeS is going to develop equivalent modification pack for the Black Swan. This will allow Dronamics to convert existing conventionally powered versions of the aircraft to a zero emissions HFC variant in accordance with CS23 aircraft design standards.

The HFC propulsion system will be a half-scale version of the 250kW system being developed under Project Fresson, which is the conversion of the 9-seat Britten-Norman Islander aircraft to hydrogen fuel cell propulsion currently in development. 

Dronamics CEO, Svilen Rangelov said: “We are very excited to be working with CAeS on the adoption of hydrogen fuel-cell technology for our aircraft, having successfully completed the feasibility study. The prospect of running flights with their emissions-free propulsion system helps further solidify our position as a frontrunner in the cargo drone market.”