Queensland airline unveils plan to use hydrogen planes on regional routes


Australia’s regional flight routes could soon be serviced by zero emissions planes. Skytrans, which operates from Cairns in Queensland and services routes to Cape York and the Torres Strait, has said it plans to work with Stralis Aircraft to retrofit its Beech 1900D model to run on a hydrogen electric system.

Experts from Queensland’s Griffith University will also be supporting the endeavour, which seeks to capitalise on the massive boom in green hydrogen project announcements in the state. 

Stralis – a Brisbane based company started up last year with the intention of decarbonising aviation – will design, build and test fly the retrofitted aircraft, which is expected to have a range of 800km and seat 15 people. The modification will include replacing the aircraft’s conventional turbine engine and kerosene fuel system with Stralis’ “novel Hydrogen Electric Propulsion System (HEPS) and liquid hydrogen storage tank.”

It hopes to be doing flight tests by early 2025, and the aircraft could enter service as early as 2026.

Skytrans, the regional Queensland airline, is believed to have ordered three of the converted hydrogen electric planes with options on another two. The airline is targeting ‘net zero’ by 2050 – a difficult feat in an industry widely acknowledged as one of the most difficult to decarbonise.

Stralis and Skytrans are claiming the hydrogen aircraft achievement would be an Australia first, but it is worth noting startup Aviation H2 is also completing for this crown and claims it can have a hydrogen plane in the sky by 2023.

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