It was a world first, but also a test for future greener flights. A 19-seater plane took off on Thursday January 19, partly powered by hydrogen. This test flight could inaugurate the development of more ecologically virtuous regional links.
After obtaining its authorizations at the end of the year, ZeroAvia has just carried out its first flight test. Made with a 19-seater Dornier 228, it lasted 10 minutes. It took place from the ZeroAvia research center situated at Cotswold Airport, itself located in the English county of Gloucestershire.
The hydrogen, located in a tank, passes through a fuel cell, before becoming electricity and powering the engines. ZeroAvia teams modified the twin-engine aircraft by installing a hydrogen/electric engine on its left wing (the right being equipped with a Honeywell TPE-331 engine). For several years, the giants of the aeronautical sector have been investing in the search for alternative fuels to kerosene to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of their planes.
“This is a crucial step, not only for ZeroAvia, but also for the aviation industry. This proves that our propulsion system has reached maturity and that zero-emission commercial flights will be achievable in a few years”, commented Val Miftakhov, the creator and CEO of ZeroAvia.
The company is trying to achieve a certifiable configuration allowing commercial routes to use its technology by 2025. The Dornier 228 will make several more test flights from Kemble and demonstration flights from other airports in England.
ZeroAvia is also working on another 2-5 MW hydrogen/electric powertrain that will be able to fly planes carrying 90 passengers.
However, while hydrogen can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the energy is not totally green. Nearly 95% of the hydrogen produced in the world still comes from fossil fuels.