ZeroAvia is one of the fastest-moving players in the aviation industry’s drive to decarbonize operations thanks to its zero-emission technologies, including hydrogen-electric-powered aircraft. The hydrogen-electric engines use hydrogen in fuel cells to generate electricity, which is then used to electric power motors to turn the aircraft’s propellers, with the only byproduct being water.
The company has now partnered with the UK’s Birmingham Airport (BHX) to establish the infrastructure to support hydrogen-powered regional airline flights. This opens up the possibility of green air travel from Birmingham to destinations like Glasgow, Aberdeen, Belfast, and Dublin by the middle of this decade.
The companies have commenced a long-term partnership to make on-airfield hydrogen refueling and regular domestic passenger flights of zero-emission aircraft a reality in the coming years.
ZeroAvia is currently working on bringing to market a hydrogen fuel cell-based propulsion system approved to convert existing regional aircraft by 2025. A 10- to 19-passenger aircraft equipped with its 600-kilowatt ZA600 powertrain could operate up to 300 nautical miles by then.
On January 19, ZeroAvia achieved the first flight in the UK with a Dornier 228 twin turboprop equipped as a technology demonstrator. The company says that it plans to announce the first aircraft type to be converted for commercial use in the coming months. Additionally, it is working on plans for a more powerful 2.5-megawatt propulsion system that would allow an 80-seater aircraft to fly up to 1,000 nautical miles by 2027.
The partnership with ZeroAvia forms an important part of BHX’s journey to become a net-zero-carbon airport by 2033, as outlined in its carbon roadmap published in 2022. The airport plans to use an area near its disused Elmdon terminal building as a potential location for hydrogen refueling infrastructure, testing, and operations.
“Birmingham Airport can be a central spoke in a green flight network in the UK, given that any domestic mainland destination will be reachable from the airport using our first systems in 2025,” said Arnab Chatterjee, VP of Infrastructure, ZeroAvia. “Given the commitments of the Jet Zero Strategy on domestic aviation, it is fantastic to engage with forward-thinking airports that want to be early innovators and developers to deliver the vision of bringing truly clean, quiet, and pollution-free flights to the UK.”