In an important development for the aviation industry, ZeroAvia, flies the world's largest Zero-emission aircraft powered by a hydrogen-electric engine. For this maiden flight, ZeroAvia, a leading zero-emission aviation company, used its Dornier 228, a 19-seater testbed aircraft, retrofitted with a full-size prototype hydrogen-electric powertrain on the plane's left wing.
The flight took off from the R&D facility of the company at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire, UK, and lasted for 10 minutes. The aircraft completed taxi, takeoff, a whole pattern circuit and landing. The landmark flight was part of the HyFlyer II project, an important research and development project backed by the flagship ATI Programme of the UK Government, with a target to develop a 600kW powertrain to support 9-19 seater aircrafts to fly around the world with zero-emission.
The twin-engine aircraft was retrofitted with ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric engine on the left wing and a Honeywell TPE-331 stock engine on the right. In this testing configuration, two fuel cell stacks power the hydrogen-electric powertrain, with lithium-ion battery packs providing peak power during takeoff including redundancy for a safe test flight. Fuel cell power generation systems and Hydrogen tanks were inside this testbed cabin for testing, however, commercial configurations will restore the seats and power systems will be stored externally.
The flight test campaign was conducted under a full part 21 flight authorization with UK CAA, which is a much more rigorous set of requirements compared to the E-conditions framework used for ZeroAvia's earlier 6-seat prototype test flights. However, this signifies the maturity of the company's designs and processes, also that it is ready to proceed towards full commercial certification of its power plants.
ZeroAvia will work towards its certifiable configuration to provide commercial routes using the technology by 2025. The Dornier 228 will be conducting a series of test flights from Kemble and later demo flights from other airports.
Founded in 2017, ZeroAvia is the developer of the first zero-emission powertrain for the aviation sector. It aims to bring Hydro-electric engines into the aircraft to address a variety of markets, initially focusing on a 300-mile range in 9–19-seater aircraft by the year 2025, and by 2027 targets up to 700-mile range for 40-80 seater aircrafts. The company is headquartered in Hollister, California, and secured experimental certificates for two prototype aircraft from CAA and FAA. The company has passed the flight test milestone and secured key partnerships with major aircraft OEMs and is on track for commercial operations by 2025.