Image: ZeroAvia

ZeroAvia is establishing itself as the market leader in zero-emission passenger aircraft with the announcement of a collaboration with Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines, to develop a hydrogen-electric powertrain capable of flying 76-seat regional aircraft over 500 nautical miles.

Alaska also joins the company’s roster of top investors, along with another Seattle-based fund, the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, and Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

Diana Birkett Rakow, vice president of public affairs and sustainability for Alaska Airlines, said: “Alaska is committed to creating a sustainable future for aviation, working on all aspects of a five-part path toward our goal of net zero by 2040. We are honored to partner with ZeroAvia’s innovative and forward-thinking team, to support their progress developing zero-emissions aviation, and to collaborate for real-world hydrogen aviation success.”

Alaska and ZeroAvia engineers will collaborate to scale the company’s existing powertrain technology in order to create the ZA2000 engine family, which will produce between 2,000 and 5,000 kilowatts of power and have a range of 500 miles. The cooperation will initially incorporate ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric propulsion technology into a full-size De Havilland Q400 aircraft capable of transporting 76 passengers that was previously operated by Alaska Air Group subsidiary Horizon Air Industries, Inc. Throughout this project, ZeroAvia will collaborate closely with aircraft authorities to guarantee the aircraft meets both safety and operational criteria. ZeroAvia will establish a presence in the Seattle area to assist with this project.

Additionally, Alaska has obtained options for up to 50 kits to begin converting its regional aircraft to hydrogen-electric power using ZeroAvia’s zero-emission engine, beginning with the Q400. This ground-breaking zero-emission aircraft rollout will be facilitated by ZeroAvia and its infrastructure partners, including Shell. Advancing new propulsion technologies is one of the five pillars of Alaska’s approach to reach net zero emissions.

Val Miftakhov, CEO and founder of ZeroAvia, said: ​ “The aviation industry is one of the hardest industries to decarbonize; however, with this collaboration, we are one step closer to achieving our goal of making our skies emission-free. We are thrilled to see Alaska taking the lead to implement clean technologies into their operations and look forward to putting boots on the ground with Alaska’s team.”

Recently, ZeroAvia successfully ground-tested its 600kW powertrain capable of flying aircraft with ten to twenty seats over a 500-mile range, is well on its way to preparing a 19-seat aircraft for flight testing at Cotswold Airport in the United Kingdom, and is moving forward with full-scale prototype manufacturing of its 2,000 kW engine for demonstrations in 2022.

Nedim Husomanovic

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