Ecojet airline aims to fly hydrogen-electric aircraft from 2025
Green-energy businessman Dale Vince has revealed plans to set up the UK's first electric aviation company. Ecojet will repurpose conventional aircraft to fly on hydrogen-electric power, with domestic flights planned to start as early as 2025.
Norfolk-born Dale Vince – founder and owner of renewables-based energy company Ecotricity – has partnered with an experienced pilot named Brent Smith to set up Ecojet, along with a number of aviation specialists.
The company intends to get the airline operating as soon as possible, so its first flights between Southampton and Edinburgh next year will use unmodified aircraft that run on a kerosene-based fuel, while approval for the hydrogen-electric powertains is sought from the Civil Aviation Authority.
"It does feel like a contradiction but at the heart of this project is upcycling existing planes and retrofitting them," Vince told The Guardian. "This is the pragmatic approach, which means we won’t lose time. We will build up the infrastructure, get the planes in the air and swap in the engines when they are available."
Flights to mainland Europe are also planned, with subsequent expansion farther afield. The refits will begin from 2025 on Ecojet's 19-seat and 70-seat aircraft, with The Guardian also reporting that the onboard hydrogen tanks will be filled up with hydrogen produced using renewable energy.
"Once converted, the aircraft will operate with the same power output as before, but with a one-hundred percent reduction in CO2 emissions," reads the press release. The water produced as a byproduct of the process will be captured and released at lower altitudes.
To further reduce the environmental impact of Ecojet, the company intends to serve customers plant-based in-flight meals only, vows not to use single-use plastic, and will have its staff wear environment-friendly uniforms. No more information is available at this time, but others looking into hydrogen to fuel greener aviation include Airbus, ZeroAvia and Rolls-Royce.
"The question of how to create sustainable air travel has plagued the green movement for decades, Ecojet is by far the most significant step towards a solution to date," said Vince. "The desire to travel is deeply etched into the human spirit, and flights free of C02 emissions, powered by renewable energy will allow us to explore our incredible world without harming it for the first time."