ZeroAvia outline plans for a hydrogen electric powered flight

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The historic flight is presently pencilled in for 2024 and will trace a route from London to Rotterdam The Hague Airport in the Netherlands. The British-American company has partnered with the Royal Schiphol Group to deliver on this mission, which will pave the way for eco-friendly flights between the UK and Europe. ZeroAvia’s 19-seater is still being constructed but the company appears positive its hydrogen-powered propulsion will slash emissions as well as costs.

Hydrogen has emerged in recent years as a promising alternative to fossil fuels and is being slowly applied to a wide variety of technology.

Last month, for example, it was announced the UK will soon begin trialling hydrogen-powered HGVs on its route towards net-zero emissions.

Construction equipment manufacturer JCB has also struck a “landmark” deal to import “green hydrogen” from Australia, to become the nation’s biggest distributor of the eco-friendly fuel.

Not only is hydrogen the most abundant element in the universe, but the only waste produced by hydrogen fuel cells is harmless water vapour.

The aviation industry is presently estimated to produce about two to three percent of all human-induced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and about 12 percent of all transportation-related emissions.

According to data published by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), the industry pumped out some 915 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019 alone.

ZeroAvia aims to revolutionise the industry in the global push to curb planet-warming greenhouse emissions by 100 percent.

Sergey Kiselev, Head of Europe, at ZeroAvia, said: “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.

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“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.”

To date, the company has completed 35 test flights of the hydrogen propulsion system used by the Piper M-series aircraft, which carries up to six people.

The company is also in the process of retrofitting a 19-seat Dornier 228 to use a pair of 600kW hydrogen-powered engines.

ZeroAvia aims to launch the first test flights in the next few months.

Ron Louwerse, CEO, of Rotterdam the Hague Airport, said: “Boarding a zero-emission flight from Rotterdam to London is only the beginning of green aviation, and that will only be made possible by pioneering and promoting innovation in the sector.

“With the Netherlands as the testing ground for aviation, we strengthen our competitive position, knowledge base and business climate.”

ZeroAvia has also partnered with the Alaska Air Group on a bigger, more ambitious project.

The deal will see the company retrofit a 76-seat De Havilland DHC-8-400 aircraft with a 3MW hydrogen propulsion system.

Alaska has also already secured up to 50 kits to begin converting its fleet of aircraft to hydrogen power.

Diana Birkett Rakow, vice president of public affairs and sustainability for Alaska Airlines, said: “Alaska is committed to creating a sustainable future for aviation, working on all aspects of a five-part path toward our goal of net zero by 2040.

“We are honoured to partner with ZeroAvia’s innovative and forward-thinking team, to support their progress developing zero-emissions aviation, and to collaborate for real-world hydrogen aviation success.”

Additional reporting from Maria Ortega.

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