Supersonic hydrogen plane set for Spanish test flight

Supersonic hydrogen-powered aircraft to be tested in Spain

Image of hydrogen-powered aircraft. Credit: destinusaero/X

Destinus, a European aerospace start-up, is preparing to test a supersonic, zero-emission aircraft in Spain by 2026.

Destinus announced its plans to commence flight testing of the Destinus-3 prototype. This ground-breaking aircraft will measure about 10 meters, and will be capable of exceeding speeds of 1,200 kilometres per hour using cryogenized hydrogen as fuel, that is 250 degrees below zero.

Advancements in hydrogen-powered flight

Sources from Destinus, specialising in aerospace, defence, and energy solutions, conveyed to the EFE agency their strategy to commence flight tests two years later than initially planned.

This delay is to ensure thorough verification of the systems in 2025, setting the stage for the test flights to begin in 2026.

Destinus-3 represents a significant step in the progression towards hypersonic flight, projected for 2035. Unlike its predecessors that used kerosene, this model incorporates a 1,000-litre hydrogen tank.

Destinus has already launched its first model of unmanned aircraft using aviation fuel for both civil and military purposes at the end of 2023. A second model is anticipated to enter service by mid-2024.

Global reach and leadership

Destinus, headquartered in Switzerland with operations in France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain, is a pioneer in autonomous flights powered by artificial intelligence and advanced turbine engines.

The company has experienced rapid growth, doubling its workforce to 170 employees globally. Around 70 of these, primarily engineers, are based in Tres Cantos. In 2022, Pedro Duque, also the president of Hispasat, joined Destinus’ board of directors.

Funding and collaborations

Destinus has secured grants from the Spanish Government for two projects, totalling €26.7 million. These funds are part of Spain’s ambition to lead in renewable hydrogen production, supported by the Next Generation funds of the European Commission.

The company collaborates with ITP Aero, a Spanish engine manufacturer, and the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) in developing hydrogen engine testing facilities.

In 2023, Destinus’ turnover exceeded €20 million, and it aims to increase this tenfold in 2024, as per sources telling EFE.

Future prospects and employment

Destinus currently has 16 job openings across Europe, including six in Spain. The company is actively seeking aeronautical and aerospace engineers. Its growth strategy focuses on Europe, particularly Spain, where it anticipates significant expansion following the resolution of its export permits.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.