Image: ZeroAvia

MHI RJ Aviation Group (MHIRJ), the world’s largest CRJ Series aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul company, and ZeroAvia, a pioneer in aviation hydrogen-electric propulsion, announced that they have entered into a collaboration agreement to develop hydrogen-electric propulsion for regional jet applications.

The collaboration with MHIRJ will leverage ZeroAvia’s hydrogen fuel cell powertrain technology and MHIRJ’s experience in aircraft design, certification, and support to develop aircraft solutions capable of not only delivering new hydrogen-electric aircraft, but also efficiently retrofitting existing aircraft. 

According to the MOU, MHIRJ will aid ZeroAvia by providing engineering services in support of the engines’ certification to PART 33 for aircraft, as well as advising services to assess the feasibility of a green refit program for regional aircraft.

This is a critical milestone in ZeroAvia’s growth and expansion into a larger market. The business, a renowned leader in zero-emission aircraft propulsion with an emphasis on hydrogen-electric power, has completed over 35 test flights of a Piper M-class six-seat aircraft powered by its hydrogen fuel cell powertrain. 

At the moment, it is converting a larger 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft with its zero-emission powerplant, with the maiden test flight scheduled for the coming months. ZeroAvia intends to obtain certification and market entry for its 19-seat powertrain by 2024, with the goal of expanding to bigger aircraft (50-80 seats) by 2026 and regional jets by 2028.

“Developing aviation solutions for the future requires a re-assessment of their environmental impact and developing new technologies to ensure that aviation lives up to the commitments required to meet carbon reduction targets. At MHIRJ we are working with propulsion innovators to ensure that we are at the forefront of such developments and can design solutions to move the world forward. Regional aircraft are key to keeping smaller communities and regions connected and are also more able to exploit the new technologies on the horizon than larger aircraft and, therefore this is a logical place for this development to begin and we are proud to be a part of this innovative solution,” said Hiro Yamamoto, President and CEO of MHIRJ.

“We believe that in the future almost every aircraft in the world will be powered by hydrogen-electric engines, simply because it is the most viable and scalable method for eliminating carbon and also to cut the other harmful emissions from the aviation sector. This collaboration with MHIRJ is a significant milestone for us and the aviation industry as a whole. We are honored to work with MHIRJ to introduce hydrogen-electric propulsion technology into the regional jet segment and demonstrate the myriad of cost and emissions benefits airlines can derive from hydrogen fueled flight,” said Val Miftakhov, CEO, ZeroAvia.

Nedim Husomanovic

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