Australian Stralis Aircraft Uses Modernization Program to Facilitate Clean-Sheet Aircraft Design – Smart Aviation Asia-Pacific
Brisbane-based Stralis Aircraft is aiming to develop an all-new aircraft, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, but is first developing a re-engine program for the Beechcraft 1900D which replaces the aircraft’s turboprops with electric motors.
Stralis CEO Bob Criner says Smart Aviation Asia-Pacific the success of the Beechcraft 1900D upgrade program will provide key lessons and help fund a clean-design aircraft powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.
Criner previously worked as an aircraft integration manager for Ampaire, a developer of hybrid-electric aircraft in the United States, and prior to that worked as a senior aerospace engineer for MagniX, the Australian manufacturer of electric motors for the aviation which later moved to the United States.
Stralis co-founder Stuart Johnstone also worked for Ampaire and before that MagniX.
Criner says they chose the 1900D for the first project because it’s a pressurized aircraft that remains commercially viable.
Source: Stralis Aircraft
Criner, who is 1.95m tall, also opted for the 1900D, rather than the Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner, as he can stand upright in the 1900D.
But he also says they may retrofit some Fairchild Swearingen Metroliners after the 1900D as some customers have expressed interest.
He says Stralis considered the nine-seat Cessna Caravan, but opted for the 19-seat 1900D because it’s a larger plane that will have more of an impact on reducing carbon emissions.
The 19-seater is a ‘sweet spot’ – big enough to be relevant but small enough not to cost too much to upgrade and get an additional type certificate, he says.
Criner says they plan to install a hydrogen storage tank in the rear bulkhead of the 1900D, reducing cabin seating from 15 to 15. The clean-designed aircraft that will come later could have 19 passenger seats, as it will have a longer fuselage, he says. .
The hydrogen-electric 1900D will be able to fly at 431 nm with a reserve of 45 minutes required for instrument flight rules, which is equivalent to 170 kg of hydrogen, says Criner.
The aircraft will remain in the same weight and balance envelope as the original aircraft, he adds.
The electric motor will be 955 kW, which matches the power of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67D over the conventional 1900D, he says. The electric motor will use the Hartzell propeller already certified for the 1900D, he adds.
Criner says Stralis hasn’t bought a 1900D yet, arguing that it’s not the best use of money because Stralis is still in the design phase. He says Stralis has identified some aircraft in Canada and South Africa for possible purchase in early 2024.
Stralis’ first propeller spin on its system will take place in mid-2024, with first flight scheduled for six months later, with a year and a half of certification testing including ground and flight testing before services trading in mid-2026, it says.
Criner says Stralis has verbal agreements with various companies for about 20 aircraft in total.
It recently announced its partnership with the Australian regional carrier with Skytrans to develop and test the aircraft. Skytrans has signed a letter of intent for three planes with an option for two more, Criner says.
There are 350 to 400 1900Ds in service worldwide, Criner says, adding that Stralis plans to retrofit 125. The break-even point for the program is 43 aircraft, with any orders beyond that making the program profitable and generating revenue. income to invest in the design of white sheet. plane, the SA-1, he said.
SA-1 and SA-2 Clean Sheet Designs
Stralis has two clean sheet models, the 45-seat SA-1 and the 90-seat SA-2. The retrofit program will allow Stralis to gain experience in aircraft certification.
Criner says talking to customers interested in retrofitting the 1900D provides information that helps in the development of the SA-1.
A first render of Stralis Aircraft SA-1 (Source: Stralis Aircraft)
Stralis also talks to operators about the pros and cons of the De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Dash 8 and ATR 42 when designing the SA-1, he adds.
He says his experience at previous companies taught him to stick better to more traditional airframe designs for clean-sheet aircraft.
The SA-1 program will start in 2024 when Stralis has sold enough modernized B1900Ds, says Criner. The introduction of 19 more economical seats will result in more people leaving smaller airports, opening up new travel markets, he adds.
Experience working for Ampaire and MagniX – as well as consulting with Swedish electric plane developer Heart Aerospace – gave him the confidence to work on his own cutting-edge hydrogen-electric plane in Australia, he says, adding that he is passionate about helping to make Australia a major player in aeronautics.
Criner says there is a diaspora of talented Australian engineers working around the world and if there was a major Australian aerospace company, many would return to Australia.
Photo of Stralis Aircraft CEO Bob Criner
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