ABOVE: The initiative will run for an initial period through to 28 February 2025

The CAA has selected the first three companies to participate in its Hydrogen Challenge Sandbox, a consortium designed to ‘work closely with the regulator to increase readiness of industry and the regulator for hydrogen fuel’.

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS), Exeter Airport Consortium and ZeroAvia will now ‘review and provide feedback on safety cases, test plans and risk assessments’ as they work to help shape and define the process for regulatory certification.

“Being able to collaborate on the basis of real-life test examples and data should hugely benefit the building of a new regulatory framework, which thus far has mostly been a theoretical exercise,” commented Johannes Hien, Head of Design at Cranfield Aerospace Solutions. Paul Harper, Director of Airworthiness and Certification at ZeroAvia, added: “Given we are already flight testing and working with the UK CAA on certification on our first engine, now is the right time for the Hydrogen Challenge to swing into action”.

Additionally, a study to reduce the environmental impact of aircraft turnarounds at Exeter Airport will be undertaken by Regional & City Airports, TUI, hydrogen fuel provider ULEMCo and Cranfield University.

The challenge was launched in November 2023 with nearly £940,000 from the Regulator’s Pioneer Fund, with the current £12 million round being delivered by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).