ZeroAvia, a company specializing in electric aircraft propulsion, has successfully completed the first-ever electric-powered flight of its commercial-scale aircraft at Cranfield Airport in the United Kingdom. The aircraft was equipped with the new version of its powertrain.
The maiden flight of a six-seater battery-powered aircraft is a significant milestone both for the UK’s net-zero and green aviation ambitions and for ZeroAvia on the journey to demonstrating long-distance zero-emission flights in large aircraft. ZeroAvia is developing a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain that offers the same zero-emission potential as an electric battery and with a higher energy-to-weight ratio. This makes it viable for large-scale commercial operations in less time.
ZeroAvia plans to carry out long-distance flights later this summer and aims to start commercial and certified flights of 10-20 seat configuration within three years, and services of between 50 to 100 seat configuration by the end of the decade. The company believes that flights with more than 200 seats and a range of over 3,000 miles (5,556 km) can be reached by 2040.
ZeroAvia’s development work is embedded in the British government-owned HyFlyer project. It aims to decarbonize small medium-range passenger aircraft. The conventional drive train in aircraft is to be replaced by electric motors, fuel cells, or gas storage. As a highlight of HyFlyer, the project participants are working towards a flight of 250 to 300 nautical miles (463 to 556 km) from Cranfield to the Orkney Islands in Scotland.
New powertrain aims to deliver the same performance as a conventional aircraft engine, but with zero carbon emissions and at around half of the operating costs. ZeroAvia still does not mention technical details such as the structure of the drive train, integration in the fuselage, the position of the tanks, or the power of the drive.
“Today’s flight is the latest in a series of milestones that moves the possibility of zero-emission flight closer to reality,” said Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia Founder and CEO. “We all want the aviation industry to come back after the pandemic on a firm footing to be able to move to a net-zero future, with a green recovery. That will not be possible without realistic, commercial options for zero-emission flight, something we will bring to the market as early as 2023.“