ZeroAvia successfully completes first flight of world’s largest hydrogen-electric plane [Video]

Less than a month after receiving a permit to fly from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), hydrogen-electric plane developer ZeroAvia has successfully completed the first flight of its 19-passenger aircraft. It’s maiden flight marks the record for the largest aircraft in the world to be powered by a hydrogen-electric engine, representing a huge moment for clean aviation.

ZeroAvia is a zero-emission aviation company that develops planes that utilize hydrogen-electric propulsion. The company currently operates in the US and UK and previously achieved experimental certificates for prototype aircraft from both the CAA and FAA.

ZeroAvia has been working toward the development of zero-emission commercial plane operations with its 600kW powertrain by 2024, targeting nine to nineteen seat aircraft with a range of 300 miles. That propulsion system will be followed by a two to five mega-watt version, targeting a 700-mile range.

The company already has investments from Alaska Air Group in addition to another $35 million from United Airlines. Last summer, ZeroAvia announced an additional $30 million in funding to help further develop its hydrogen-electric plane technology to get into the air.

In late December, ZeroAvia confirmed that it had finally received the necessary permit in the UK to get its 19-seat Dornier 228 twin-engine aircraft airborne. Today, the company is celebrating the successful journey with the video footage to prove it. Normally, we’d save this for the end of the article, but you need to see it ASAP.

ZeroAvia’s Hydrogen-electric plane finally takes flight

Cool, right?

The company shared details of its HyFlyer II project this morning, including the video footage above. The HyFlyer II program is a major R&D project backed by the UK Government, which targets development of the aforementioned 600kW zero-emission plane powertrain.

The twin-engine plane was retrofitted with ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric engine on its left wing, which operated alongside a Honeywell TPE-331 stock engine on the right as a failsafe.

The flight took place from the ZeroAvia’s R&D facility at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire, UK. Earlier today overseas, the hydrogen-electric plane completed taxi, take-off, a full pattern circuit, and landing; it’s maiden flight lasted 10 minutes and all systems performed as expected. ZeroAvia founder and CEO Val Miftakhov spoke to this momentous event for the future of zero-emissions aviation:

This is a major moment, not just for ZeroAvia, but for the aviation industry as a whole, as it shows that true zero-emission commercial flight is only a few years away. The first flight of our 19-seat aircraft shows just how scalable our technology is and highlights the rapid progress of zero-emission propulsion. This is only the beginning – we are building the future of sustainable, zero climate impact aviation. Our approach is the best solution to accelerate clean aviation at scale. Congratulations to everyone on our team and all of our partners and stakeholders for the collective effort that brought us to this monumental day in history.

Looking ahead, ZeroAvia will work toward its certifiable configuration to be finalized and submitted in 2023. When certified, the company will be able to deliver commercial routes using its technology by 2025. The Dornier 228 seen above will face a series of additional test flights from Kemble, followed by demonstration flights departing from other airports.

Remember, ZeroAvia also already has it 2-5 MW powertrain program underway, which can be used to power 90 passenger hydrogen-electric planes and travel much greater distances if successful. The company believes today’s successful flight demonstrates its tremendous progress and leaves cause for optimism for expedited hydrogen-electric powertrain development going forward.

This is an exciting moment for both aviation and zero-emission mobility. Should we watch the video again?

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Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how tos or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports.
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