Destinus’ second prototype, Eiger, conducted its maiden flight on April 13th, 2022, at an airport near Munich. A key question to be answered during this flight: how would this scaled-up and improved version of Jungfrau, designed according to a hypersonic shape, perform at low speeds, take-off, and landing? One of the most challenging tasks for a versatile hydrogen-powered hypersonic aircraft is the aeroshape and flight dynamics. Read more about the shape in our previous blog post here.
The evening before the test flight, standard checks and tests were conducted on the ground to prepare for the flight. Eiger, about the size of a truck, accelerated on the runway and took off into the air. As the altitude increased, the pilot performed a turn to begin the first loop. A few minutes into the flight, the prototype experienced an aerodynamic instability and Eiger made a hard landing. Although the flight did not go as planned, significant data points were collected from internal and external sensors that will help the engineers validate their analysis and provide new insights. This is a great opportunity for us to learn more about this challenging shape!
Eiger is now back in the hangar for the team to investigate the problem in detail and to understand how to improve the design before the next flights can be scheduled in a few weeks. This prototype is the second in a series of development vehicles that Destinus is building and it is a test-bed for developing tools, structures, processes, and autonomy. The next prototype is still on track to fly supersonically by the end of this year.
We are proud of the team for their hard work over the past months and we are looking forward to the next flight of Eiger!