British company ZeroAvia last week successfully flew a Piper M-series aircraft converted to run on hydrogen electricity.
Conducted out of Cranwell, the flight, which consisted of only one circuit, produced only heat and water as by-products from a power train linking hydrogen fuel cells to an electric motor. During the eight-minute flight, the aircraft did not exceed 100 knots.
“It’s hard to put into words what this means to our team," said ZeroAvia CEO, Val Miftakhov, "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.”
ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric powertrain is projected to have lower operating costs than jet-fueled aircraft due to lower fuel and maintenance costs. The company plans to control hydrogen fuel production and supply for its powertrains and other commercial customers.
The next and final stage of the six-seat development program is a 250-mile, zero-emission flight out of Orkney before the end of this year. The demonstration range planned is the equivalent to busy major routes such as Los Angeles to San Francisco or London to Edinburgh.
In addition to aircraft programt, ZeroAvia has been involved in developing the Hydrogen Airport Refuelling Ecosystem (HARE) at Cranfield Airport, a representation of what the airport systems will look like in terms of green hydrogen production, storage, refueling and fuel cell powered-flight.