ZeroAvia completes maiden flight with retrofitted hydrogen-electric powertrain


ZeroAvia has now flown the largest aircraft powered by a hydrogen-electric engine in the world. 

The UK-based zero emissions aircraft developer took to the skies for the maiden flight of its 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft. The testbed has been retrofitted with a full-size prototype hydrogen-electric powertrain on the left wing of the aircraft.

The flight, which forms part of the UK Government-backed HyFlyer II project, took place from ZeroAvia’s R&D facility at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire, UK, lasting 10minutes.

Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia, founder and CEO, said: “The first flight of our 19-seat aircraft shows just how scalable our technology is and highlights the rapid progress of zero-emission propulsion. This is only the beginning – we are building the future of sustainable, zero climate impact aviation. Our approach is the best solution to accelerate clean aviation at scale. Congratulations to everyone on our team and all of our partners and stakeholders for the collective effort that brought us to this monumental day in history.”

The twin-engine aircraft was retrofitted to incorporate ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric engine on its left wing, which then operated alongside a single Honeywell TPE-331 stock engine on the right. In this configuration, the powertrain comprises two fuel cell stacks, with lithium-ion battery packs providing peak power support during take-off and adding additional redundancy for safe testing. Hydrogen tanks and fuel cell power generation systems were housed inside the cabin, but in a commercial configuration, they would be stored externally and the seats put back in.  

This largest ZeroAvia engine tested to date places the firm on the path to a certifiable configuration to be finalised and submitted for certification in 2023, it said. Now working towards that configuration, ZeroAvia plan to deliver for commercial routes using the technology by 2025.

ZeroAvia will now work towards its certifiable configuration in order to deliver commercial routes using the technology by 2025.

UK Secretary of State for Business, Grant Shapps, said: “Today’s flight is a hugely exciting vision of the future – guilt-free flying and a big step forward for zero-emission air travel. It also demonstrates how government funding for projects like these is translating into net zero growth.”