In order to continue the company’s trajectory towards zero-emission flight, the American technology startup ZeroAvia is ramping up the development of the largest fuel-cell-powered aircraft to date – the 19-seat aircraft – to decarbonize and revolutionize regional air travel.
For this, the company will utilize two twin-engine 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft – one in the UK and one in the US, provided respectively by Aurigny and AMC Aviation. Both devices were previously in service with regional operations in the US and UK, demonstrating the potential to reduce carbon emissions on existing routes. These will be adapted for flying on hydrogen as part of the HyFlyer II program.
As part of HyFlyer I, ZeroAvia successfully demonstrated a 250 kW powerplant in a 6-seat aircraft across three flight test campaigns, achieving all the project’s technical goals, including fuel-cell-only cruise flight. All the lessons learned from the HyFlyer I will be fully utilized in the development of a 600 kW engine for the 19-seat plane in the HyFlyer II.
For the 19-seat aircraft, two 600 kW units of the company’s hydrogen-electric powertrain will replace the Dornier 228’s twin engines, along with hydrogen fuel tanks. ZeroAvia’s six-ton hydrogen-powered aircraft will have to carry 100 kg of compressed gaseous hydrogen to support the 500-mile (805-km) range of the commercial offering in 2024.
Additionally, the company is processing the software, hardware, mechanical integration, and fuel cell balance-of-plant to the certifiable state.
ZeroAvia has also secured an additional $13 million for a larger plane again, capable of seating more than 50 passengers. This new funding complements the initial investment of $24 million the company announced a few weeks ago, bringing the total private investment into ZeroAvia large engine development for 50+ seat aircraft to $37 million.
“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,” said Val Miftakhov, Founder and CEO at ZeroAvia. “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.“