World's first 4-seater fuel-cell plane takes off in Germany

BERLIN – Aircraft engineers in Germany have successfully tested the world’s first four-seater plane that uses emission-free hybrid fuel cells to fly.

The 10-minute test flight Thursday at Stuttgart Airport in southwestern Germany involved two pilots and two dummy passengers.

The twin-cabin plane, known as HY4, was developed by aircraft maker Pipistrel, fuel cell specialist Hydrogenics, the University of Ulm and the German Aerospace Center DLR.

It uses hydrogen to generate electricity in-flight, giving it a cruising speed of 165 kilometres per hour (102.5 mph) and a range of up to 1,500 kilometres (932 miles), while relying on batteries for take-off and landing.

Boeing and Airbus have also tested smaller fuel cell planes in recent years as the aircraft industry searches for ways to reduce emissions.