ZeroAvia gets CAA approval for new hydrogen-electric test flights

The Dornier 228 aircraft owned by ZeroAvia has been given permission to fly after being modified with its hydrogen-electric prototype powerplant by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Following a thorough ground testing campaign and a thorough examination of the whole development program, ZeroAvia was granted permission to fly.

This enables ZeroAvia, a pioneer in zero-emission flying, to start testing its 600kW hydrogen-electric powerplant. The 19-seat twin-engine aircraft has been retrofitted in a testbed configuration for engineers to include ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric engine powering the propellor on its left wing, operating in conjunction with a single Honeywell TPE-331 stock engine on the right for adequate redundancy to permit the safe testing of the novel propulsion technology.

The test flights are expected to signal a significant milestone for ZeroAvia and the HyFlyer II project, a significant R&D initiative supported by the UK government’s ATI Programme that aims to create a 600kW hydrogen-electric powertrain for 9–19 seat aircraft.

Compared to the E-Conditions framework ZeroAvia had utilized for its 6-seat prototype in 2020, ZeroAvia has worked with the CAA to meet a far stricter set of requirements for this testing program. The regulatory approval of businesses that design and produce aircraft as well as the certification of goods, parts, and appliances for aircraft are referred to as Part 21 in the industry. A big step towards commercialization has been taken by ZeroAvia with the acquisition of this license to fly.

It will open the door for a ZA600 configuration that is commercially certifiable to be presented by the end of 2023, ahead of the delivery of powertrains for the first commercial routes for 9–19 seat aircraft to begin in 2025. ZeroAvia is well-positioned to guide the industry’s transition to a clean future thanks to its 1,500 engines that are currently under pre-order, collaborations with seven aircraft manufacturers, and several fuel and airport relationships.

The Dornier 228 testbed from ZeroAvia will likely fly as the largest airplane ever to use a hydrogen-electric propulsion system when test flights start in January.