In a first, Boeing says it has flown a hydrogen-battery plane

OCANA, Spain, April 3, 2008 (AFP) – US aircraft maker Boeing flew a plane earlier this year that was powered by a hydrogen battery in a first for the aviation industry that could herald a greener future, senior company officials said in Spain on Thursday. But the company said that although hydrogen fuel cells could be used to power small planes it did not believe they could become the primary power source for large passenger planes.

“For the first time in the history of aviation, Boeing has flown a manned airplane that was powered by a hydrogen battery,” Boeing chief technology officer John Tracy told a news conference at the firm’s research centre in the central Spanish town of Ocana.

The development was “a historical technological success for Boeing” and was “full of promises for a greener future”, he added.

The plane, which used propellers, flew at a speed of 100 kilometres (62 miles) an hour for about 20 minutes at an altitude of about 1,000 metres (3,300 feet) using only the hydrogen battery for power, Boeing said in a statement.

Hydrogen power uses of chemical “fuel cells” that can tap the energy produced from the chemical transformation of hydrogen and oxygen into water.

It holds the promise of a cleaner and renewable energ