The world just got one step closer to zero-emission aviation this week as ZeroAvia completed the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered flight of a commercial-grade aircraft.
Partly-funded through the UK Government, the flight in Cranfield, England used 4lbs 6 oz of hydrogen fuel and reached an altitude of 1000 feet.
With its Piper six-seat plane, ZeroAvia’s achievement is the first step to realizing 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 will match the flight distances and payload of current fossil fuel aircrafts,” the company said in a statement.
This major milestone on the road to commercial zero-emission flight is part of the HyFlyer project, a research program supported by the UK Government and follows the UK’s first ever commercial-scale battery-electric flight, conducted in the same aircraft in June.
ZeroAvia will now turn its attention to the next and final stage of its six-seat development program—a 250-mile zero emission flight 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.
“It’s hard to put into words what this means to our team, but also for everybody interested in zero-emission flight,” said CEO Val Miftakhov. “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.”
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. 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.”
Based in London and California, the company plans to control hydrogen fuel production and supply for its powertrains, and other commercial customers, substantially reducing the fuel availability and pricing risks for the entire market, a “novel approach” that removes many limitations of the current zero emission programs.