ZeroAvia has built and flown the world’s largest hydrogen-electric passenger aircraft to date, the Dornier 228. Yesterday, a 19-seat twin-engine aircraft equipped with a prototype hydrogen-electric power plant completed a 10-minute flight in the UK.
The short flight from Cotswold Airport was part of the HyFlyer II project, a government-funded program to develop small passenger aircraft that are more environmentally friendly than currently used models. The power plant is supplied with electricitycompressed hydrogen gas generated by an onboard electrolyser“. The test configuration included two stacks of fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries that were placed in the cabin for the duration of the test.
In commercial use, however, the plan is to place power sources outside the fuselage to make room for passengers. In addition, the right wing had a standard Honeywell TPE-331 turbo engine to provide additional thrust on takeoff and provide “insurance” in the event of failures in the experimental systems.
ZeroAvia intends to certify the technology later this year, with commercial flights planned by 2025. The company is also working on a program to build a 2-5 MW power plant that will allow the technology to be used with liners designed for 90 passengers. The ultimate goal is to expand the use of the technology to narrow-body aircraft over the next decade. These are, for example, the Boeing 737 series aircraft.
What is known is that the project is not only financed at the expense of public money – Amazon has invested in developments from its own Climate Pledge Fund, which is intended to promote environmentally friendly projects.
It was previously reported that ZeroAvia intends to organize the first commercial flights with hydrogen-powered aircraft between London and Rotterdam as early as 2024.