Hydrogen-electric propulsion company ZeroAvia is to develop a version of its hydrogen-electric engine suitable for use in CRJ regional jets that could be ready by the late-2020’s.
The ZA2000RJ powertrain is being developed as part of an agreement made with with MHIRJ, the Mitsubishi-owned regional aircraft maintenance and servicing company. The MoU builds on one made by the two companies at the end of last year and covers the integration and certification of its hydrogen-electric propulsion system on regional jets, including the CRJ series.
ZeroAvia is developing a hydrogen-electric propulsion system that can be retrofitted to existing, or line fitted to small aircraft and regional jets.
MHIRJ was formed in 2020 when Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) acquired Bombardier’s CRJ Series program. The company provides maintenance and other services to CRJ and other regional jet operators. Around 2,000 CRJ Series aircraft are in use, making the 50-100 airplane one of the most successful regional jet programs in the world.
According to ZeroAvia the agreement signals that CRJ Series regional aircraft could be able to use zero-emission hydrogen-fuelled engines “as early as the late 2020s”.
The agreement with MHIRJ covers engineering services and aircraft integration for the hydrogen-electric engine, as well as providing OEM experience to support the certification of ZeroAvia’s powertrain for use by regional jets.
ZeroAvia plans to certify its ZA600, a 600kW powertrain for smaller, 10-20 seat aircraft, for entry into service in 2024. The company is also working on the ZA2000, a 2-5MW modular powertrain which targets support for 40-80 seat turboprops by 2026.
The ZA2000RJ powertrain will expand this technology to enable passengers to fly in zero-emission regional jets.
Val Miftakhov, CEO and founder of ZeroAvia said, “There are hundreds of CRJ Series aircraft in daily operation across North America, transporting millions of passengers. All these flights can and should be zero-emission well before the end of this decade.
“This agreement is a giant step forward in delivering hydrogen-electric engines to the regional jet segment.”
The agreement is the first for MHIRJ’s Aerospace Engineering Centre (AEC) in the hydrogen propulsion field. MHIRJ’s Aerospace Engineering Centre aims to provide engineering, design and certification services to third parties using the expertise and experience of its engineering team.
Hiro Yamamoto, president and CEO of MHIRJ said, “We are very excited about this agreement with ZeroAvia as it furthers two important goals for MHIRJ. The first is to continue to grow our AEC business through working with other companies and using our vast engineering expertise to advance this state-of-the art project.
“The second benefit is that we are part of the value chain in bringing innovative sustainable technology into the regional space.”