MADRID, SPAIN — Currently, a typical passenger jet takes around 20 hours to travel from Europe to Australia. However, Swiss start-up Destinus aims to reduce this time to just over four hours with a hypersonic, hydrogen-fueled passenger aircraft.

Over the past couple of years, Destinus has been testing its prototype planes and announced successful test flights of its second prototype, Eiger, in late 2022. The company is now participating in a program led by Spain's Ministry of Science to develop hydrogen-powered supersonic flights.

The Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico e Industrial, the agency responsible for the program, selected the project as a strategic initiative under its Plan de Tecnologías Aeronáuticas (PTA). The project has received €12 million in funding and involves companies, technology centers, and Spanish universities.

Davide Bonetti, VP of Business Development and Products for Destinus, expressed excitement over the grants and emphasized their importance in advancing research and innovation for hydrogen flight.

Hydrogen power is an area of significant research and development due to its eco-friendly nature, as its combustion primarily produces heat and water. RMIT University in Melbourne has recently developed 3D-printed catalysts that can power hypersonic flight and act as cooling agents to counter the extreme heat generated when aircraft travel at five times the speed of sound or around 6,100 km/h.

Destinus claims that their technology will enable flights from Frankfurt to Sydney to take only 4 hours and 15 minutes instead of 20 hours and flights from Frankfurt to Shanghai to last 2 hours and 45 minutes, cutting travel time by eight hours.

In June 2022, Destinus partnered with Spanish engine manufacturer ITP Aero to create a hydrogen engine test facility. The Spanish government's grant will fund the construction of a test facility near Madrid for the air-breathing hydrogen engines. An additional €15 million grant project will support research into liquid hydrogen-powered propulsion.