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‘World first’ hydrogen-powered flight success

Posted on 28 Sep 2020 and read 369 times
‘World first’ hydrogen-powered flight successCranfield-based ZeroAvia, a leading innovator in decarbonising commercial aviation, has completed a ‘world first’ hydrogen fuel cell powered flight of a commercial-grade aircraft.

The flight took place on 25 September at Cranfield Airport with a Piper M-class six-seat plane completing taxi, take-off, a full pattern circuit and successful landing.

​ZeroAvia’s achievement is the first step to realising the transformational possibilities of moving from fossil fuels to zero-emission hydrogen as the primary energy source for commercial aviation.

Eventually, and without any new fundamental science required, hydrogen-powered aircraft are expected to match the flight distances and payload of the current fossil fuel aircraft.

This major milestone on the road to commercial zero-emission flight is part of the HyFlyer project, a sequential R&D programme supported by the UK Government and follows the UK’s first-ever commercial-scale battery-electric flight, conducted in the same aircraft in June.

Through the HyFlyer project, ZeroAvia is working with key partners the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and Intelligent Energy to decarbonise medium-range small passenger aircraft by demonstrating powertrain technology to replace conventional engines in propeller aircraft.

Intelligent Energy will optimise its high power fuel cell technology for application in aviation while EMEC, producers of green hydrogen from renewable energy, will supply the hydrogen required for flight tests and develop a mobile refuelling platform compatible with the plane.

ZeroAvia will now turn its attention to the next and final stage of its six-seat development program - a 250-mile zero-emission flight out of an airfield in Orkney before the end of the year. The demonstration of this range is roughly equivalent to busy major routes such as Los Angeles to San Francisco or London to Edinburgh.



ZeroAvia CEO Val Miftakhov said: “It is hard to put into words what this means to our team, but also for everybody interested in zero-emission flight. While some experimental aircraft have flown using hydrogen fuel cells as a power source, the size of this commercially available aircraft shows that paying passengers could be boarding a truly zero-emission flight very soon.

“All of the team at ZeroAvia and at our partner companies can be proud of their work getting us to this point, and I want to also thank our investors and the UK Government for their support.”

Through the HyFlyer project, ZeroAvia is working with partners including the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and Intelligent Energy to decarbonise medium-range small passenger aircraft by demonstrating powertrain technology to replace conventional engines in propeller aircraft.

Intelligent Energy will optimise its high power fuel cell technology for application in aviation while EMEC, producers of green hydrogen from renewable energy, will supply the hydrogen required for flight tests and develop a mobile refuelling platform compatible with the aircraft.

Business and Industry Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “Developing aircraft that create less pollution will help the UK make significant headway in achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Backed by Government funding, this flight is another exciting milestone in ZeroAvia’s project.

“It shows that technologies to clean up air travel are now at our fingertips - with enormous potential to ‘build back better’ and drive clean economic growth in the UK.”