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  • Joe Breitfeller

British Airways Partners With ZeroAvia for Future of Hydrogen Powered Passenger Aircraft

Recently, ZeroAvia completed the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered flight of a commercial-grade aircraft and their partnership with British Airways is part of IAG’s Hangar 51 tech accelerator program.

ZeroAvia's Hydrogen-Electric Powered Piper M-Class Test Aircraft - Courtesy British Airways

On Saturday (December 12, 2020), British Airways announced the launch of a new partnership with ZeroAvia to speed up the transition to hydrogen powered commercial aircraft. The new collaboration with British Airways is part of IAG’s Hangar 51 tech accelerator program, reflecting the importance the carrier is placing on sustainability. In September, ZeroAvia reached a major milestone by completing the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered flight of a commercial-size aircraft from Cranfield Airport. The testbed aircraft was a six-seat Piper M-class aircraft, which completed taxi, takeoff, a full pattern circuit and landing. In Saturday’s announcement on the new partnership, British Airways’ CEO, Sean Doyle, said,

“British Airways is committed to a sustainable future and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In the short-term this means improving our operational efficiency and introducing carbon offset and removal projects, while in the medium to longer term we’re investing in the development of sustainable aviation fuel and looking at how we can help accelerate the growth of new technologies such as zero emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft.”

Also commenting in the collaboration, British Airways’ Director of External Communications and Sustainability, added,

“We are very excited to partner with ZeroAvia and get a glimpse of a zero-emissions future using hydrogen powered aircraft. During the partnership, as well as assessing the environmental advantages of the technology, we will also be exploring the operational, commercial and customer experience improvements that can be achieved.”

Further speaking on the new partnership with British Airways and Hangar 51, ZeroAvia’s Head of Europe, Sergey Kiselev, stated,

“ZeroAvia’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to truly zero emissions flight and we believe hydrogen is the best way to quickly and practically achieve this. Earlier this year, we proved that passengers will soon be able to board an emissions free, hydrogen-powered aircraft for commercial services. In the years to come, we will scale that technology up to power larger aircraft over longer distances. We have found that in addition to improving the sustainability of flight, which is vital, hydrogen-electric technology has the potential to lower operating costs and improve the in-flight passenger experience. We are delighted to be working with British Airways, one of the world’s iconic airlines, and the Hangar 51 programme to explore how hydrogen-electric aircraft can power the fleet of the future. That promising future is closer than ever.”

ZeroAvia Completes the World's First Hydrogen Fuel Cell Powered Flight of a Commercial-Grade Aircraft From Cranfield Airport in September 2020 - Courtesy British Airways

During 2021, ZeroAvia plans further demonstrations of the technology at longer ranges with larger aircraft. The company’s goal is to achieve commercialization of hydrogen-electric aircraft by 2023 with an aircraft seating up to 20 with a range of 500 miles and flights with up to 100 seats with a range over 500 miles by 2027. By 2030, the goal is to establish a range for the technology of over 1,000 miles with an aircraft seating over 100 passengers.

London and California-based ZeroAvia has secured experimental certificates for two test aircraft and completed major flight test milestones with the world’s first hydrogen-electric powered flight in September 2020. The company’s expanding UK operations are partially funded by grants from the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK. ZeroAvia is also part of the UK Government’s Jet Zero Council and is on track to achieve commercial operations of hydrogen-electric powered flight by 2023.

Source: British Airways

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