Hydrogen-electric aircraft developer ZeroAvia has gained approval from the UK aviation authorities to fly its modified Dornier 228 aircraft, which has been retrofitted with its prototype hydrogen-electric powertrain. The company secured the permit to fly following an extensive ground testing campaign and a rigorous review of the full development program.
The milestone paves the way for pioneering test flights of ZeroAvia’s 600kW hydrogen-electric powertrain to begin in early 2023. The 19-seat twin-engine aircraft has been retrofitted in an engineering testbed configuration to incorporate ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric engine. The engine powers the propellor on its left wing, operating alongside a single Honeywell TPE-331 stock engine on the right for appropriate redundancy to allow the safe testing of the novel propulsion technology.
The test flights are set to be a landmark achievement for ZeroAvia and the HyFlyer II project, backed by the UK Government’s ATI Programme that aims to create a 600kW hydrogen-electric powertrain for 9-19 seat aircraft.
“Earning our full Part 21 permit to fly with the CAA is a critical milestone as we develop a zero-emission aviation propulsion system that will be the most environmental and economical solution to the industry’s climate impact,” said Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia, Founder & CEO. “We’re going to be starting 2023 in the best way possible by demonstrating through the flight that true zero-emission commercial flight is much closer than many think.”
If the flight-test program is a success, it will pave the way for a commercially certifiable configuration for ZA600 to be submitted by the end of 2023, leading to deliveries in 2025. The company says the ZA600 is sized to power sub-regional aircraft with nine to 19 seats; its launch platform is the Cessna Grand Caravan turboprop single.
The company states it already has 1,500 zero-emission engines under pre-order and partnerships in place with seven aircraft manufacturers. When test flights begin in January, ZeroAvia’s Dornier 228 testbed is expected to become the largest aircraft to ever fly using a hydrogen-electric powertrain.