ZeroAvia is expanding its 19-seat aircraft program in an effort to decarbonize and transform regional air transport.
The company will operate two Dornier 228 twin-engine aircraft, one in the United Kingdom and one in the United States, furnished by Aurigny and AMC Aviation, respectively. Both aircraft previously operated regional flights in the United States and the United Kingdom, indicating the potential for carbon reduction on existing routes.
ZeroAvia’s 19-seat R&D facility is part of HyFlyer II, the company’s second government-backed initiative aimed at developing a hydrogen fuel cell powerplant. As part of HyFlyer I, ZeroAvia demonstrated a 250kW powertrain in a six-seat aircraft through three flight test campaigns, achieving all of the project’s technical objectives, including cruise flight solely on fuel cells. HyFlyer I’s lessons learned will be used entirely to the development of a 600kW 19-seater powerplant for HyFlyer II.
Additionally, ZeroAvia has raised an additional $13 million for its 50+ seat engine development program from AP Ventures, a leading investor in disruptive technologies across the hydrogen value chain, Alumni Ventures Group, SGH Capital, Agartha Fund LP, and existing investors Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Summa Equity, Shell Ventures, SYSTEMIQ, and Horizons Ventures. This additional finance joins the company’s previously disclosed $24 million investment, bringing the total private investment in ZeroAvia’s large engine development for 50+ seat aircraft to $37 million.
Val Miftakhov, Founder and CEO at ZeroAvia said: “We are eager and ready to begin testing our hydrogen-electric powertrain technology on a larger commercial-size aircraft and grateful to our investors and grant funders for their continued support of our vision for sustainable aviation. Various projections indicate that aviation may account for over 25 percent of human-induced climate effects by 2050. We are on the path to helping reverse that trend, first with our successful 6-seater testing and now with the R&D for our 19-seater, and the kick-off of our 50+ seat program. Hydrogen is the only practical solution for true climate-neutral flight, and it will become a commercial reality much sooner than many predict.”
Kevin Eggers, Partner at AP Ventures, said: “We are delighted to welcome ZeroAvia to our existing portfolio of hydrogen-related technologies. We have been impressed with the progress that ZeroAvia has made over the last 24 months—technically, operationally, and commercially. Furthermore, we have become increasingly confident about the significant role of hydrogen in decarbonizing aviation. We believe that ZeroAvia will pioneer the development of hydrogen-electric powertrains for the aviation space.”
Two 600KW hydrogen-electric powertrain units will replace the aircraft’s twin engines, together with hydrogen fuel tanks capable of retaining 100kg of compressed gaseous hydrogen to enable the commercial offering’s 500-mile range in 2024. Additionally, ZeroAvia is advancing toward certification of the software, hardware, mechanical integration, and fuel cell balance-of-plant. The aircraft, which weighs six tons, will have a range of 500 nautical miles.
Nico Bezuidenhout, CEO of Aurigny, said: “As air travel begins to increase again, political and public pressure is mounting to incorporate more sustainable technology. ZeroAvia’s 19-seat initiative will not only seek to decarbonize existing regional services but also expand the reach of regional aviation by ultimately reducing seat mile cost, making smaller planes competitive with larger aircraft. In turn, smaller airports will become more accessible for aviation service, increasing traveller convenience, and the corresponding demand for point-to-point regional air travel.”
ZeroAvia’s new 30,000-square-foot Kemble facility will serve as a dedicated development hub for the company’s 600kW engine class, representing a significant investment in and growth of the company’s UK-based research and development program. The company’s Hollister, California headquarters will support the UK team with testing and will build the second demonstration aircraft for technology commercialization in North America. The company presently employs over 50 employees and plans to grow to over 100 in the next 12 months in both the United States and the United Kingdom.