The Future of Hydrogen-Powered Aviation: Fresson Project Takes Flight

The Future of Hydrogen-Powered Aviation: Fresson Project Takes Flight

The global aviation industry is undergoing a significant transformation as it embraces sustainability and seeks to reduce its carbon footprint.

One promising avenue for achieving this goal is the development of hydrogen-powered aircraft, with the Fresson project being a prime example of this innovation. Led by Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) and supported by leading technology collaborators, the Fresson project aims to develop a commercially viable, hydrogen-powered retrofit powertrain solution for the 9-seat Britten-Norman Islander aircraft. In this article, we will explore the future of the Fresson project and its potential impact on the aviation industry.

The Fresson Project – Collaborators and Key Technologies

The Fresson project has gained the support of multiple innovative technology companies, including Evolito, Reaction Engines, and Ricardo.

The team has also brought the Oxfordshire-based aerospace spin-out of YASA for the motor and inverter construction. The company specializes in axial-flux electric motors that are smaller, lighter, and more power-dense than radial flux solutions. Its axial-flux technology requires up to 75% less iron, copper, and permanent magnets, making it more environmentally friendly.

Fresson Project

For the Fresson project, the motor and controller unit’s mass is crucial in determining the hydrogen-electric propulsion system’s overall weight.

If the project is to work, the team must focus on minimizing the weight of the motor to maximize the aircraft’s payload and range capabilities. Evolito’s engine is lighter and more efficient and offers a compact solution that integrates well into the 240kW Fresson fuel-cell propulsion system.

Project Goals and Timeline

The Fresson project will see the team convert the propulsion system of a Britten-Norman Islander aircraft to hydrogen gas via a fuel cell system.

The teams aim to put this aircraft into commercial service by 2026 on routes of up to 200 km.

According to the schedule provided by Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, the aircraft is on track to make its maiden flight by the end of 2023.

Hydrogens Impact on the Aviation Industry

The Fresson project has the potential to reshape the aviation industry as it demonstrates the feasibility of hydrogen-powered aircraft. With zero emissions and the ability to maximize payload and range, these aircraft can help the aviation sector transition toward more sustainable operations.

If this works, the retrofit powertrain solutions allow existing aircraft to be fully converted, reducing the need for entirely new aircraft designs and promoting a circular economy within the industry.

The successful development and commercialization of the Fresson project can also pave the way for further innovations and collaborations within the aviation sector. As more companies invest in research and development to create efficient, zero-emission aircraft, the industry can witness rapid technological advancements that will improve sustainability, reduce costs, and provide a better experience for passengers.


The Fresson project, spearheaded by Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and supported by technology collaborators such as Evolito, Reaction Engines, and Ricardo, represents a significant milestone in developing hydrogen-powered aviation. With its focus on creating a commercially viable retrofit powertrain solution for existing aircraft, the project has the potential to revolutionize the aviation industry, making it more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

As the project progresses and reaches its goals, the future of hydrogen-powered aircraft looks bright, promising a new era of sustainable air travel.

  • The Fresson project focuses on developing a hydrogen-powered retrofit powertrain solution for the 9-seat Britten-Norman Islander aircraft.
  • Cranfield Aerospace Solutions leads the project, with collaborators like Evolito, Reaction Engines, and Ricardo providing innovative technologies.
  • Evolito’s axial-flux electric motors are lighter, more efficient, and environmentally friendly, making them ideal for hydrogen-powered aviation.
  • The project aims for commercial service by 2026 on routes up to 200 km, with the first flight scheduled for late 2023.
  • Successful development and commercialization of the Fresson project could revolutionize the aviation industry, promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly air travel.

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