Hydrogen-electric aircraft development moves forward with multi-million funding awards for ZeroAvia


ZeroAvia has secured £12.3 million (US$16.3 million) in UK Government funding to help develop and certify its 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft by 2023.

The funding, which is being allocated through the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) as part of the HyFlyer II project, comes shortly after the company raised £16m ($21.4m) in a funding round. Private investors from the round include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which is backed by Bill Gates, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund and Shell.

Earlier this month airline ZeroAvia also announced it is partnering with airline British Airways as part of a program to “speed up the switch to hydrogen-powered aircraft”.

ZeroAvia is developing its 19-seat aircraft, which will be powered by its 600kW hydrogen-electric powertrain, to have a 500 mile range. The company plans to be flying 50-100 seat configurations by the end of the decade.

The next milestone ZeroAvia is targeting is a 350 mile flight to take place during early 2023. The company flew a hydrogen-electric aircraft, a 6-seat Piper Malibu M350, for the first time from Cranfield using its powertrain from Cranfield, UK in June 2020.

Val Miftakhov, CEO, ZeroAvia said, “We are delighted with the ATI’s decision to back our 19-seat powertrain development program. This project is instrumental for delivering a market-ready hydrogen powered solution for 2023 that makes passenger-ready zero carbon aviation a reality.

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and Aeristech are also part of the HyFlyer II project. EMEC is developing the hydrogen fuelling systems required to power the aircraft for flight tests, including mobile fuelling platforms suited to airport environments. Engineering firm Aeristech is to supply air compressor systems for the new 19-seat powertrain.

ZeroAvia claims that its hydrogen-electric powertrain will have lower operating costs than its jet-fuelled competition due to lower fuel and maintenance costs, in addition to reducing the air pollution today’s aircraft emit. The company also plans to offer hydrogen fuel production and supply for its powertrains, and other commercial customers, to improve fuel availability and reduce pricing risks.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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