ZeroAvia Sets 2024 Target For First Passenger Hydrogen Flight

Hydrogen and electric propulsion systems are being heralded as two of the main avenues towards net-zero flight. However, the answer to the question ‘when’ has remained somewhat vague – until now. Hydrogen-electric aircraft developer ZeroAvia announced Wednesday that it is targeting passenger flights between the UK and the Netherlands as soon as 2024. Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines could be flying regional hydrogen aircraft by 2026.

ZeroAvia aircraft
ZeroAvia and the Royal Schiphol Group are targeting commercial hydrogen-electric flight in a 19-seater aircraft by 2024. Photo: ZeroAvia

Partnership with the Royal Schiphol Group

Flights between London and Rotterdam will be operated by a 19-seater Dornier 228 aircraft. The plane, powered solely by hydrogen, is currently under development at ZeroAvia’s facilities in Kemble in the UK. The company says it is ‘well advanced’ in preparing it for flight testing at Cotswolds Airport.

The new 2024-timeline has been established through a partnership between ZeroAvia and the Royal Schiphol Group, which manages Rotterdam the Hague Airport (as well as Amsterdam Schiphol). Who will operate it for the first commercial flight is yet to be decided. However, the two partners say that they are in advanced talks with airlines.

“This deal means that, in just three years’ time, you should be able to board a flight and make the hour journey between the UK and the Netherlands without worrying about the impact on the climate. Working with partners like Royal Schiphol Group, we are making true zero-emission flights a reality for passengers in the first half of this decade,” ZeroAvia’s Head of Europe, Sergey Kiselev, said in a statement earlier today.

ZeroAvia Sets 2024 Target For First Passenger Hydrogen Flight
The two partners will collaborate on establishing airport refueling infrastructure. Photo: ZeroAvia

Figuring out the logistics

The two partners will test and demonstrate hydrogen supply chains and the refueling integration with airport infrastructure and operations. Furthermore, they will focus on developing a pathway for the commercial operation of hydrogen flight. This includes establishing a regulatory framework and understanding customer appeal.

The partnership with the Royal Schiphol Group and the foundation of Rotterdam the Hague Innovation Airport (RHIA) is not the only significant milestone for ZeroAvia over the last few days. On Tuesday, the company announced that it had signed a deal with Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines, to develop a powertrain for a 76-seat zero-emissions aircraft.

Alaska ZeroAvia collab
Meanwhile, Alaska Air Group is targeting Q400 hydrogen-flight powered by ZeroAvia in 2026. Photo: Alaska Airlines

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Regional planes in North America 2026

The powertrain currently being developed by ZeroAvia can produce 600 kilowatts. However, together with engineers from Alaska Airlines, they will collaborate to scale the existing platform to create an engine family capable of producing between 2,000 and 5,000 kilowatts of power with a 500-mile range, called the ZA2000. This will then go in a de Havilland Q400 aircraft, operated by Alaska Air Group’s subsidiary Horizon Air. The target for entry into service has been set for 2026.

Investing in R&D for new propulsion technologies is part of Alaska’s five-pillar path towards reaching net-zero by 2040. The airline group also secured options for 50 kits from ZeroAvia to begin converting its regional aircraft to hydrogen-electric power.

What are your thoughts on hydrogen flight? Are you a proponent of the technology or not yet entirely sold? Leave a comment below and let us know why. 

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