TMCnet Feature
January 27, 2022

ZeroAvia Partnerships Drive Growth in Zero-Emissions Aircraft Engines

ZeroAvia has recently established partnerships with leading airlines and organizations to bring clean energy solutions to light. ZeroAvia is the world’s leading developer of zero-emission air transportation solutions. With operations in the United States and the United Kingdom, the company builds engines to power aircraft of various sizes.

The company’s hydrogen-electric power trains are in various development stages. The company expects to launch commercial air travel flights by 2024 using the new technology. ZeroAvia continues to make significant strides in its work with various leaders in air travel. Here is a closer look at each of the partnerships.

ASL Aviation Holdings to Partner on ATR72 Aircraft

In November 2021, the company announced an agreement with ASL Aviation Holdings. The Irish-based partner provides air services throughout Asia, Europe, and South Africa.

The partnership means ZeroAvia will build hydrogen-electric engines for ASL’s ATR72 aircraft. It also includes an order to have ZeroAvia convert 10 ASL-owned ATR freighter aircraft to hydrogen-electric propulsion.

As a result, ASL can achieve zero-emission air cargo flights. The development timeline calls for the airline to launch zero-emission operations beginning in 2026.

Under the terms of the deal, ASL Airlines Ireland will deliver a retired ATR72F plane to the company. It will be used for program development and eventually as a demonstration aircraft.

The two companies are also part of the ASL CargoVision Forum. That initiative aims to accelerate innovation and sustainability within the air cargo industry. The two companies seek to provide reduced-emissions flights progressively in an area where connectivity is a critical need.

ZeroAvia founder and CEO Val Miftakhov noted that his company could help ASL and other airlines meet their goals for zero-emissions air travel. The industry has made emissions reduction a priority. He cited ZeroAvia’s success in flight testing and the advancements made in R&D in recent years. With those gains, he is confident the partnership will result in some of the first commercial freight flights using hydrogen-electric engines.

ZeroAvia and ASL will collaborate to create the ZA2000 power train. The engine is a 2- to 5-megawatt alternative for aircraft typically equipped with 40 to 90 seats. The ATR variant to be retrofitted for the ATR aircraft uses an electric motor power train and hydrogen fuel cell.

ZeroAvia also is working to scale its hydrogen airport refueling ecosystem (HARE). The already-developed solution created with the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) is part of the U.K. government’s HyFlyer program. The company has also won a new transport innovation and research grant from the U.K.’s Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure. That initiative seeks to develop concepts for refueling using liquid hydrogen at airports.

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd to Collaborate on Dornier 228 Retrofits

A second November partnership deal links ZeroAvia with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The deal is a development collaboration with the state-owned Indian company, which provides aerospace and defense aircraft. It calls for developing a hydrogen-electric powertrain for use in 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft for up to 500 nautical miles.

The partners will work to create a supplemental type certificate to allow retrofitting of existing airframes. The Indian military and other operators worldwide would use the new airframes. In addition, HAL plans to build new aircraft, pending FAA approval, that would use the ZeroAvia ZA600 engines.

Engineers from both companies will integrate the hydrogen-electric power train into the Dornier 228 frame. With 242 Dornier 228 aircraft in service, the agreement provides an opportunity to provide zero-emissions aircraft throughout the region.

ZeroAvia has extensive experience with the Dornier 228, with a plane used at its Cotswold Airport facility in the U.K. The company recently completed ground tests of a 600kW power train using the Dornier 228. It plans to begin flight testing in the coming months, aiming toward certification and the launch of commercial service in 2024.

The Cotswold Airport Dornier 228 is the dedicated development platform for the HyFlyer II project, which seeks to decarbonize air travel. The ATI Programme partly funds the project. The U.K.’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Aerospace Technology Institute, and Innovate UK fund the ATI Programme.

Rose Cay Invests in ZeroAvia

Rose Cay, a U.S.-based investment firm, recently announced a financing collaboration with ZeroAvia. The real asset special situations platform will provide funds for aircraft and infrastructure.

The capital will allow ZeroAvia to acquire planes and build hydrogen-electric powertrain solutions. In addition, the funds will offset some of the conversion costs for the company’s lease partners.

Rose Cay and ZeroAvia will market zero-emission aircraft to operators around the world. In addition, Rose Cay will create airport infrastructure systems to ensure that hydrogen is available as needed.

Miftakhov praised the Rose Cay deal, which allows his company to acquire, convert, and lease stored aircraft. Those steps allow operators to leverage the new technology without waiting for the construction of new planes. He noted that the infrastructure component means all those converted planes will have an in-service support network.

Alaska Airlines Partners and Invests

ZeroAvia closed a deal with Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines, in October 2021. The collaboration calls for creating power trains that can fly a 76-seat aircraft more than 500 nautical miles.

Like other air operators, Alaska Air has signed on to The Climate Pledge. That commitment calls for a reduction by 2040 of its carbon emissions to net-zero. Alaska Air has committed to other reductions in carbon, water, and waste by 2025.

Engineers from both companies will collaborate to scale ZeroAvia’s existing powertrain to create the ZA2000. The engine, designed to produce between 2,000 and 5,000 kilowatts of power, can fuel flights of up to 500 nautical miles.

The partners will install the new powertrain in a full-size De Havilland Q400 aircraft. Horizon Air Industries, Inc., an Alaska Air Group subsidiary, had previously used the 76-passenger plane for commercial flights.

ZeroAvia intends to establish a third location in Seattle to support the collaboration as part of the deal.

As with its other collaborations, Miftakhov has pledged to work with air travel regulators to meet safety and operational requirements.

The deal also includes options for Alaska Air to buy as many as 50 kits. These kits would help convert its De Havilland Q400 regional aircraft using the ZeroAvia powertrain. ZeroAvia and its infrastructure partners will deploy ground fuel production solutions to support the rollout.

Miftakhov has noted that the aviation industry is one of the most difficult to decarbonize. As more air operators pledge to reduce emissions, cleaner tech is needed, he said.

As part of its deal, Alaska Air is also investing in ZeroAvia. Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Shell Ventures, AP Ventures, and Agartha Fund LP are among the private investors in the company. Other investors include SGH Capital, Bill Gates’ (News - Alert) Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Summa Equity, and SYSTEMIQ. In total, the company has raised more than $53 million.

Mitsubishi (News - Alert) Partners With ZeroAvia

Mitsubishi’s MHI RJ Aviation Group (MHIRJ) is the world’s largest aircraft maintenance, overhaul, and repair company for CRJ-series planes. Its agreement with ZeroAvia will see the two companies build regional jet applications using zero-emission propulsion systems.

The deal combines ZeroAvia’s expertise in the new technology with MHIRJ’s strengths in aircraft design, support, and certification. The memorandum of understanding calls for new construction and retrofitting of existing aircraft.

The Mitsubishi unit will provide engineering support to certifying the engines under Part 33. Those regulations, used by aviation regulators worldwide, govern airworthiness standards for aircraft engines. Mitsubishi and ZeroAvia will also work together to determine the feasibility of creating a green retrofit program for regional aircraft.

The Mitsubishi deal is an essential step as the company looks to expand into broader markets. It’s a key move, which aims to use the power trains in larger aircraft with 50 to 80 seats by 2026 and in regional jets by 2028.

Miftakhov called the Mitsubishi partnership a significant milestone for the company and the industry. He also believes that introducing the technology into regional jets will draw attention to the cost and emissions benefits to airlines.

ZeroAvia to Test Hyzon Motors Fuel Cells

ZeroAvia announced in September 2021 that it would evaluate fuel cell stacks made by Hyzon Motors Inc.

Hyzon, based in Rochester, New York, makes high-performance, lightweight fuel cells. ZeroAvia will determine the feasibility of using the next-generation fuel cells in its zero-emission engines.

ZeroAvia noted the publicly held Hyzon’s fuel cell stack has one of the industry’s highest power densities. Its Gen3 stack has a rated volumetric power density above 6 kilowatts per liter. Its gravimetric power density has achieved more than 5.5 kilowatts per kilogram. Both are well above industry averages, according to Hyzon.

The light but powerful fuel cells are necessary to reduce weight and provide enough power to generate the desired performance levels.

Miftakhov said hydrogen offers three times more specific energy content than traditional jet fuels. Hydrogen also provides 100 times more energy content than the best batteries used today.

Those attributes make hydrogen the only viable option for zero-emission, large-scale aircraft.

Hyzon is known for its hydrogen-powered vehicles, including trucks, coaches, and buses. It believes it can adapt its core technology for ZeroAvia’s aircraft use.

To test the Hyzon fuel cells, ZeroAvia will use the stack in simulated airplane duty cycles. The tests will simulate the amount of power needed in various critical times of need, including takeoff, landing, taxiing, and cruising.

In addition, the company will test the performance in more strenuous conditions, such as a rapid altitude change or other ambient conditions.

After validation via ground tests, the fuel cell stack could be tested in actual flights.

Octopus Hydrogen to Supply Fuel Components

Octopus Hydrogen, a new arm of Octopus Energy Group, will provide 100% green hydrogen to ZeroAvia. The hydrogen will supplement ZeroAvia’s electrolysis hydrogen generation at the Cotswold Airport site.

Octopus Hydrogen will provide more than 250 kilograms of hydrogen daily. The hydrogen will be a green, high-pressure, fuel cell–grade product as part of the ZeroAvia mobile refueling unit.

Sergey Kiselev, ZeroAvia’s vice president of Europe, hailed the deal. He noted that a zero-emissions power train program would require large quantities of hydrogen.

Recognition and Leadership

ZeroAvia has recently received multiple accolades for its work in transforming the aircraft powertrain industry. These recognitions and partnerships, from organizations worldwide, speak to the impact of the company’s initial work.

Among the achievements are:

  • Being named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. This annual honor recognizes a small number of companies in the early and growth stages. The named companies are recognized for their impacts on society and business using innovation and new technologies
  • Joining the Global Coalition for Sustainable Aviation. Part of the United Nations, the International Civil Aviation Organization manages the coalition. The group encourages the creation and acceleration of innovative ideas that support reduced emissions and sustainability in aviation
  • Being named a finalist by Fast Company for its 2021 World Changing Ideas awards in the transportation category
  • Partnering with British Airways to aid the airline in its goal to reach zero emissions by 2050
  • Partnering with the Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RTHA). The collaboration intends to build the world’s first international passenger route using the hydrogen-electric powertrain
  • Receiving a grant of £12.3 million ($16.3 million) from the U.K.’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme. The grant will help implement the zero-emissions power trains in 19-seat aircraft capable of flights up to 500 nautical miles

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