ZeroAvia Sets Its Sights On A 50 Seat Zero Emission Aircraft

Hydrogen-electric aircraft developer ZeroAvia has received $24.3 million in investment to develop 50-seater zero-emission aircraft. The company received funding from a group of investors that includes British Airways, with the project looking to design a hydrogen-electric engine for use on larger aircraft by 2026.

ZeroAvia will accelerate the development of a hydrogen-electric engine for 50+ seat aircraft. Photo: British Airways

ZeroAvia aims for 50-seater planes by 2026

ZeroAvia, a startup founded in 2017, is a sustainable aviation company described as ‘a leader in zero-emission aviation, focused on hydrogen-electric aviation solutions to address a variety of markets.’ The company will accelerate the development of a larger hydrogen-electric engine for use on 50+ seater aircraft.

In a statement, ZeroAvia said,

“Propelling their mission towards delivering airlines zero-carbon, hydrogen-fueled flight, ZeroAvia is launching the development program for a 2MW hydrogen-electric powertrain for full-size regional aircraft.”

ZeroAvia Sets Its Sights On A 50 Seat Zero Emission Aircraft
Investors in the new round of funding include British Airways. Photo: British Airways

The company received $24.3 million from a new round of Series A funding last week, bringing total private investment to over $53 million. Led by Horizons Ventures, other investors include British Airways,  Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, Shell Ventures, and SYSTEMIQ.

“This new round accelerates the larger hydrogen-electric engine development for the 50+ seat aircraft and supports additional commercial airlines initiatives to adopt hydrogen in aviation.”

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Commercial hydrogen-electric flights by 2024

In September, ZeroAvia operated the first commercial-grade flight fully powered by hydrogen. On this occasion, the company flew a six-seater Piper Malibu to an altitude of 1,000 ft over Bedfordshire, UK, circling the airfield twice at a rate of around 100 knots. The technology, which converts hydrogen gas to electricity, emits heat and water for a truly emission-free form of power.

ZeroAvia Sets Its Sights On A 50 Seat Zero Emission Aircraft
ZeroAvia hopes to go commercial by 2024, with 10-20 seat flights initially. Photo: British Airways

The company is looking to commercialize hydrogen-electric flights as early as 2024, although 50-seater zero-emission journeys won’t be available that early. The developer is aiming for 10-20 seater trips up to a 500-mile range by 2024, intending to get 50-seater planes in the sky by 2026. Additionally, the company is targeting 100-seater single-aisle aircraft by 2030.

“ZeroAvia expects to achieve commercialization for its hydrogen-electric powertrain as early as 2024. Its hydrogen aviation solutions will address various markets by initially targeting a 500-mile range in 10-20 seat aircraft… ZeroAvia will also target entering the 50+ seat commercial aircraft segment by 2026.”

ZeroAvia is also preparing for the first cross-country hydrogen flights across the UK. The company completed a ground test of the 60-mile flight on March 18th, which included a full battery shutdown in-flight. ZeroAvia released a detailed video of the test:

British Airways eyes 2050 zero emissions target

British Airways has set itself a target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. The airline struck up a partnership with ZeroAvia back in December, with the aim of accelerating the transition to hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft. In a statement, British Airways also reaffirmed its commitment to other sustainable aviation initiatives, including sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), carbon capture technology, and exploring more fuel-efficient planes.

British Airways planes parked behind a fence
British Airways has been working closely with ZeroAvia on zero-emission aviation tech. Photo: Getty Images

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ CEO, said,

“Innovative zero-emissions technology is advancing fast, and we support the development of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source because we believe it has the potential to enable us to reach true zero emissions on short-haul routes by 2050.”

Do you think hydrogen-electric technology will dominate aviation in the coming decades? Let us know your insights in the comments.