Watch world's largest hydrogen-powered aircraft taking flight, making history

ZeroAvia will file for certification in 2023 and expects to obtain certified commercial routes by 2025.
Deena Theresa
ZeroAvia successfully carries out the first flight test of its Dornier 228 19-seat testbed in Gloucestershire, UK, marking a pivotal milestone in ZeroAvia’s HyFlyer II program.
ZeroAvia successfully carries out the first flight test of its Dornier 228 19-seat testbed in Gloucestershire, UK, marking a pivotal milestone in ZeroAvia’s HyFlyer II program.

ZeroAvia 

ZeroAvia, a leader in zero-emission aviation, successfully completed the first flight of a 19-seat Dornier 228 testbed aircraft that was converted to run partly on hydrogen fuel cells.

The flight took place in the UK, marking a pivotal milestone in ZeroAvia's HyFlyer II, a program backed by the UK Government that targets the development of a 600kW powertrain to support 9-19 seat aircraft worldwide with zero-emission flight.

A full-size prototype hydrogen-electric powertrain was retrofitted on the left wing of the aircraft, and it operated in tandem with a single Honeywell TPE-331 stock engine on the right, according to the release.

The latest achievement follows ZeroAvia's previous world-first milestones, such as the six-seat prototype flights of a Piper M-Class airframe in 2019 and the world's first commercial-scale six-seater hydrogen-electric powered flight in September 2020.

The hydrogen-electric powertrain on board was fuelled using compressed gaseous hydrogen

The flight took off from the company's R&D facility at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire, UK, and lasted ten minutes.

According to the release, the hydrogen-electric 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. The hydrogen-electric powertrain on board was fuelled using compressed gaseous hydrogen produced with an on-site electrolyzer. The system's electrolyzer capacity was doubled earlier this year from its initial design for the latest project.

All the systems performed as expected.

"This is a major moment, not just for ZeroAvia, but for the aviation industry as a whole, as it shows that true zero-emission commercial flight is only a few years away. The first flight of our 19-seat aircraft shows just how scalable our technology is and highlights the rapid progress of zero-emission propulsion," Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO of ZeroAvia, said in a statement.

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."

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ZeroAvia to work on its certifiable configuration to deliver commercial routes

This is the largest ZeroAvia engine tested to date.

Next, ZeroAvia's 2-5 MW powertrain program, which is already underway, will scale the clean engine technology for up to 90-seat aircraft over the next decade.

ZeroAvia will also work towards its certifiable configuration to deliver commercial routes using the technology by 2025. The Dornier 228 will conduct a series of test flights from Kemble and later demonstration flights from other airports.

"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," Miftakhov added.