Clean aviation company Universal Hydrogen has received a G-1 Issue Paper from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as it works towards certifying its design for the hydrogen power conversion of the ATR 72 regional aeroplane.

The FAA has also accepted the company’s application for a supplemental type certificate for the conversion as Universal Hydrogen works to finalise the full set of certifications needed for the process.

Universal Hydrogen president and CTO Mark Cousin noted the importance of the hydrogen aviation sector’s first approval, and said: “I believe we have an important industry first here and we appreciate our responsibility to ensure that the airworthiness certification criteria that are established set a positive precedent for the rest of the nascent hydrogen aviation industry.”

Universal Hydrogen’s conversions will see the ATR 72 aircraft fitted with the company’s liquid hydrogen modules and fuel cell-electric propulsion system as part of its goal of creating a hydrogen logistics network across the aviation industry.

Describing hydrogen as the “only near-term, scalable, true zero-carbon fuel for aviation”, Universal Hydrogen has been working on the conversion tech for years, including two years of work with the FAA on the G-1 certification.

It has already flown the world’s largest hydrogen-powered regional aeroplane earlier this year as part of its work to demonstrate compliance with passenger safety standards ahead of the expected completion of flight testing in 2025.

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The company has also partnered with a number of aviation’s biggest companies, such as American Airlines, which sent congratulations upon receipt of the G-1 and described it as a “critical milestone” in the journey to bring hydrogen aviation to market.

In addition to working with domestic partners, the US-based company has also established international relationships, including a partnership with Japanese companies set up in March that will look at developing a green hydrogen supply chain in the country for Japanese airlines.

Universal Hydrogen has received over 240 aircraft conversion orders from 16 customers and has generated billions of dollars worth of orders across the first ten years of operation.