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Universal Hydrogen Dash 8 completes first flight

Universal Hydrogen Co. last week flew a 40-passenger regional airliner using hydrogen fuel cell propulsion. The airplane flew for 15 minutes, reaching an altitude of 3,500 MSL. The flight, conducted under an FAA Special Airworhiness Certificate, was the first in a two-year flight test campaign expected to culminate in 2025 with entry into passenger service of ATR 72 regional aircraft converted to run on hydrogen. The company has a rapidly growing order book, today totaling 247 aircraft conversions from 16 customers worldwide.

In this first test flight, one of the airplane’s turbine engines was replaced with Universal Hydrogen’s fuel cell-electric, megawatt-class powertrain. The other remained a conventional engine for safety of flight. “During the second circuit over the airport, we were comfortable with the performance of the hydrogen powertrain, so we were able to throttle back the fossil fuel turbine engine to demonstrate cruise principally on hydrogen power,” said the company’s chief test pilot Alex Kroll. One of the unique aspects of the design is that the powertrain does not use a battery—the fuel cells drive the electric motor directly—drastically reducing weight and cost. The company, backed by GE Aviation, Airbus Ventures, Toyota Ventures, JetBlue Ventures, and American Airlines, plans to springboard from regional airplanes to larger ones and to hydrogen fuel deliveries for other mobility applications using its modular logistics network.


Babcock completes disposal of emergency services to Ancala

Ancala Partners, an investor in critical infrastructure, last week announced it has completed the acquisition of Babcock’s aerial emergency service businesses in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Finland on behalf of its managed funds for €136.2 million. The business, which has been renamed “Avincis”, provides emergency medical, firefighting and search & rescue aviation services, typically under availability-based contracts with local and national governments. It operates a fleet of over 220 aircraft, of which approximately half are owned, across over 160 operating locations. The operations provide emergency medical services, firefighting, and search and rescue cover.

Babcock is retaining its emergency services businesses in Australia, Canada, France and the UK where it also has defence interests. The latest sale marks the end of a portfolio realignment project that has also seen the divestment of Babcock’s offshore helicopter services unit.


Will Russia’s Sukhoi Superjet 100 be built in the UAE?

The Russian state-owned aerospace company, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), has announced the sale of its share of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 program to Markab Capital, a United Arab Emirates-based capital firm. Markab Capital is the multi-family office and merchant banking arm of several large Middle Eastern family groups. In the beginning, Superjet International (SJI) was an Italian-based company with two shareholders, Sukhoi (51% stake) and Leonardo (49%). In 2016, Leonardo reduced its participation in the project. After the sale from UAC, the ownership of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 program will look like this: Markab Capital will hold 49% of the shares; the Italian law firm Studio Guidotti International will hold a 41% stake, and Leonardo will have a 10% stake.

Markab Capital has signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Italian company SJI to establish a factory for the assembly, installation and production of civil aircraft in UAE. The factory, which is scheduled to be completed in 2025, would be the first of its kind in the Arab world. SJI forecasts sales of 240 aircraft “at a minimum” spread across passenger, business jet, and cargo versions, most of which would go to the UAE and Indian markets.


People: Boeing nominates Sabrina Soussan to Board of Directors

Victor CEOs Toby Edwards (left) and James Farley (right)

The Boeing Company Board of Directors last week announced that it has nominated Sabrina Soussan to be elected as a new director at the company's upcoming annual meeting of shareholders.

Soussan, 53, currently serves as chair and CEO of SUEZ SA, a Paris-based global utility company specializing in water and waste management with a focus on sustainability. Over a more than a 20-year career at Siemens AG, she held multiple leadership positions as Division CEO, Business Unit CEO and as an engineer in transportation, automation and energy management sectors. Prior to joining SUEZ, she was CEO of Swiss dormakaba, a global leader in access and security solutions.

Soussan, who is German and French, earned a master's degree in mechanical and aeronautical engineering from the École Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et d'Aérotechnique and a master's degree in business administration from I.A.E. Poitiers and University of Dubilin, Ireland. Born in Paris, Sabrina Soussan now lives in Paris. She is married and a proud mother of one.

Subject to her election at the company's annual meeting of shareholders onApril 18, Soussan would become the eighth independent director to join the Board sinceApril 2019. These eight directors collectively bring significant experience in aerospace, safety, engineering, manufacturing, cyber, software, risk oversight, audit, supply chain management, sustainability and finance. Based inFrance, Soussan would also become Boeing's first board member based outsidethe United States and she would join the Board's audit and finance committees.

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