ABOVE: Cranfield Aerospace Solutions’ newly refurbished hangar at Cranfield University 

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) has unveiled its newly refurbished hangar and R&D facility, where the Britten-Norman Islander will be converted to a hydrogen-electric propulsion system.

Located ‘at the heart’ of Bedfordshire-based Cranfield University, the ‘modernised and more environmentally-friendly hangar’ has undergone major refurbishments including ‘significant investment into reducing the building’s carbon footprint’.

Describing the modernized hangar as a “classroom of possibilities,” Cranfield Aerospace Solutions CEO Paul Hutton explained that the new facility “will not only deliver the intricacies of zero emissions propulsion but also pioneer maintenance procedures for hydrogen-powered aircraft”.

CAeS is currently developing a ‘world-leading hydrogen propulsion system’ for the Britten-Norman Islander, an example of which is due to be converted on-site with the aim of fulfilling the ‘world’s first, zero-emissions, regulatory certified passenger aircraft solution by 2026’. The new facility also constitutes ‘the beginning of a bright trajectory’ for Cranfield Aerospace Solution’s upcoming merger with Britten-Norman (set to conclude this year), creating a new company ‘bringing together joint strengths in aerospace manufacturing, certification and innovation’.

The modernised facility will continue to maintain its conventional MRO function alongside developing hydrogen-electric systems, with CAeS’ ultimate goal to ‘become an airframer of low and zero carbon sub-regional and regional aircraft’.

Aviation Minister Baroness Vere concluded that it is ‘apt’ the facilities are opening a year on from publication of the UK’s Jet Zero strategy, explaining how she is ‘proud to see UK companies leading the way’ in the ‘challenging’ business of helping decarbonise aviation.