ZeroAvia Turns To Larger Planes In Push For Hydrogen-Electric Aviation

ZeroAvia has been making strong strides in hydrogen-electric aviation in recent months. Following a series of impressive steps, the British/American company announced this week that it is expanding its program to 19-seat aircraft. Additionally, the firm has raised an additional $13 million to develop larger engines for 50+ seat aircraft.

ZeroAvia 19-seat prototype
Aurigny and AMC Aviation are providing two Dornier 228s, with one each being based in the UK and the US, as ZeroAvia seeks to decarbonize regional air travel. Photo: Getty Images

An impressive four years

The business was founded in 2017 and following growth with testing, it is already looking at the development of 50-seater aircraft. It has also been planning 10-20 seat commercial vessels and even has its sights on 100-seat zero-emission units by the time the 2030s arrive.

Now, the company has secured a pair of twin-engine Dornier 228s to help it on its mission. It is ramping up its presence in the United Kingdom with this move as the 19-seat program will be based at a new facility in Kemble, with support from Hollister, California. Interestingly, the firm previously moved facilities to Cranfield, from the US.

ZeroAvia Plane
The overall value of private investment for larger engines for 50-seat aircraft now reaches $37 million. Photo: ZeroAvia

Reducing emissions

Two 600 kilowatt units of ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric powertrain will replace the Dornier 228 engines. Combining with hydrogen fuel tanks, the aircraft will hold 100 kilograms of compressed gaseous hydrogen to provide 500-mile flight by 2024.

“We are eager and ready to begin testing our hydrogen-electric powertrain technology on a larger commercial-size aircraft and grateful to our investors and grant funders for their continued support of our vision for sustainable aviation,” ZeroAvia founder and CEO Val Miftakhov shares in a statement.

“Various projections indicate that aviation may account for over 25 percent of human-induced climate effects by 2050. We are on the path to helping reverse that trend, first with our successful 6-seater testing and now with the R&D for our 19-seater, and the kick-off of our 50+ seat program. Hydrogen is the only practical solution for true climate-neutral flight, and it will become a commercial reality much sooner than many predict.”

From six-seat to 50-seat aircraft, ZeroAvia is keen on covering plenty of ground already. Photo: ZeroAvia

Wider efforts

ZeroAvia has been making considerable progress in the field of hydrogen fuel cell technology in recent times. Last September, its six-seat Piper Malibu Mirage performed the first-ever flight with zero-emission fuel for a “commercial-grade” passenger plane. However, the aircraft was damaged when landing in Bedfordshire in April.

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Nonetheless, this event won’t deter the company as it partners with the likes of British Airways to bring a new generation of hydrogen-electric powered vehicles. Notably, the flag carrier of the UK is part of a group that made a $24.3 million investment into the firm.

The UK is showing its intent on being a forerunner in electric aviation. Notably, the government has launched several initiatives when it comes to sustainable air travel. For example, in 2019, it revealed a £300 million (~$416 million) investment to develop greener air transport. Moreover, it has backed projects such as the ATI Programme, which is involved with exciting launches like Collins Aerospace’s 500-kilowatt electric motor powering the Airlander 10 Hybrid Airship

What are your thoughts about ZeroAvia’s progress in hydrogen-electric technology? What do you make of the overall prospects in this field across the globe? Let us know what you think of the plans in the comment section.