Two 19-Seat Dornier 228 Aircraft Get a Hydrogen Update

They will be retrofitted with 600-kW hydrogen powertrains, offering a 500-mile range.
Derya Ozdemir
Dornier 228 aircraft, digitally alteredZeroAvia

ZeroAvia, a zero-emission aviation company specializing in hydrogen-electric solutions, has announced that it is expanding its 19-seat aircraft program with the aim of decarbonizing and revolutionizing regional air travel, according to a press release.

Based in the U.K. and U.S., ZeroAvia has already received experimental certificates from the CAA and FAA for two prototype aircraft and has completed major flight test milestones, completing the world's first fuel-cell-powered flight of a commercial-grade aircraft in September last year. The HyFlyer I, a modified Piper M-class six-seater with a 250-kW powertrain, was used for the flight.

According to the company, its zero-emission powertrain has 75 percent lower fuel and maintenance costs, resulting in a up to 50 percent decrease in overall trip costs.

The company is continuing to expand and has pushed on with its next phase of development, the HyFlyer II 19-seater, and now, it has two aircraft to retrofit with the bigger powertrains.

ZeroAvia has announced in a press release that it acquired two 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft to retrofit with twin 600-kW hydrogen powertrains, making it the company's biggest certification platform to date. One will be in the U.K. and one in the U.S., and they are provided respectively by Aurigny and AMC Aviation, demonstrating the opportunity for carbon reduction on existing routes since both aircraft were previously in service for regional flights.

These planes will have a 500-mile (805-km) range with 220 lb (100 kg) of compressed H2 onboard. They will serve both as test and demonstrator aircraft, and as ZeroAvia moves closer to its goal of having commercial operations by 2024, they will serve as platforms for certifying for commercial use, one in the U.K. and the other in the U.S.

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Furthermore, the company has also announced an additional $13 million investment on a bigger jet capable of accommodating more than 50 people. To date, $37 million has been invested in this project.

Many other businesses are also investing in converting aircraft to hydrogen, but the debate over electric versus hydrogen rages on. According to a 2021 MarketsandMarkets report, the hydrogen aircraft market will be worth $7.427 million by 2030.