Aircraft

ZeroAvia completes UK's first commercial-scale electric aircraft flight

ZeroAvia completes UK's first ...
The ZeroAvia HyFlyer powered by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain
The ZeroAvia HyFlyer powered by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain
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The ZeroAvia HyFlyer powered by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain
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The ZeroAvia HyFlyer powered by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain

ZeroAvia says it has successfully completed the first-ever flight of a commercial-scale electric-powered aircraft in the UK. On June 22, 2020, the company's HyFlyer aircraft featuring the latest version of its hybrid hydrogen/electric powertrain took off from Cranfield Airport in Bedfordshire as part of a program to develop large, long-range, zero-emission aircraft.

With their zero emissions, electric-powered aircraft are drawing a lot of interest, but their need for large, heavy battery banks and a lack of range restricts their potential applications. The HyFlyer gets around this by using a new hydrogen fuel cell powertrain comparable in performance to a conventional engine that both increases range and lowers costs by reducing battery cycling.

Funded through Innovate UK and the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI)-led Aerospace R&T program, ZeroAvia says that the Project HyFlyer technology is scalable in a short time and the company foresees 10-20-seat aircraft going into service in three years, 50-100-seat versions by 2030, and a 200-seat aircraft with a range of over 3,000 nm (3,452 mi, 5,556 km) by 2040.

HyFlyer has already completed full-power ground tests and longer-distance hydrogen-electric test flights are scheduled in the next few months. The ultimate test will be a 250 to 300 nm (288 to 345 mi, 463 to 556 km) flight from the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

"Today’s flight is the latest in a series of milestones that moves the possibility of zero emission flight closer to reality," says Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia Founder and CEO. "We all want the aviation industry to come back after the pandemic on a firm footing to be able to move to a net zero future, with a green recovery. That will not be possible without realistic, commercial options for zero emission flight, something we will bring to market as early as 2023."

Source: ZeroAvia

10 comments
martinwinlow
Only it isn't "zero emission flight", not when 98% of H2 is currently produced by steam-reforming natural gas. Yes, you can make it from hydrolysing water but at an over efficiency hit of between 60 to 80%. On top of that you need near pure water to make it from, a commodity getting ever scarcer in the World, today.

Quite how the authorities permit this flying bomb to take off let alone think it is in any way going to pave the way toward a practical and economical system of air transport is a complete mystery to me.

Ah, well. The realities will sink in eventually, I suppose... but only after Mr Miftakhov has become very rich at the expense of those who have little to no understanding of the challenges in using H2 with fuel cells - bad enough on the ground let alone at 10 thousand or even 50 thousand feet up.

Many very capable and well-funded transport organisations have spent (collectively) billions trying to make H2 work as an alternative to fossil-fuel-powered vehicles... and failed dismally. Toyota have come the closest but it still doesn't work, not the least of its problems being a complete lack of H2 refuelling infrastructure - and at ~US$2m a pop, it's likely to stay that way.

Hopefully, not too many people will have to die to bring everyone to their senses.
michael_dowling
This is great news. H2 powered fuel cells are the only way around the limitations of batteries,which will never equal the range of ICE power sources. Solar/wind energy can power hydrolysis right at airports where it will be needed,and recent work has improved the efficiency of the process: https://phys.org/news/2019-09-electrolysis-breakthrough-hydrogen-conundrum.html For private automobiles,batteries have won,but for ocean going cargo ships,trains,maybe long haul trucking and aircraft in particular,H2 is the only answer.
Alien
Is that a converted Piper aircraft? It looks like an N600 or N500.
Towerman
@martinwinlow Clearly you have absolutely no grip as to the recent advancements and breakthroughs, some which have already been discussed on this site.
martinwinlow
Michael, I do understand that to most people the idea of H2 is very appealing. The reality is that it *simply is not practical - now, nor probably ever. I did put a link in my first comment for people who have no idea as to why many companies (eg Audi) have tried and failed to make H2 work for ground-based vehicles, let alone anything else, but it was deleted by the moderator. It explains why H2 won't work and this guy wants to put it in *an aeroplane*!!! I'll try again but a bit more indirectly... Search for 'planetforlife' and read the section on 'the futility of the hydrogen economy'. I hope then that you will understand why, despite the obvious appeal, not a single company has yet made H2 work in the transprt sector, despite all the money spent and all the effort invested.
Colt12
Great timing, hyper solar is about to get 100 solar panels up and running to produce hydrogen.
1stClassOPP
Re: fear of explosions. Have you seen the devastation of a natural gas explosion in s house caused by a leak and ignition? How about a train load of oil products derailment? Point being that there is calculated risk to everything, so this should not stop the exploration of other sources of energy. Go ZeroAvia!
paul314
If I have to have a potentially explosive fuel, I'd prefer one whose fumes are lighter than air rather than heavier. (And of course any energy source that stores enough joules to get you off the ground is by definition going to be dangerous when any significant fraction of it is released at once. )
ljaques
I don't think H2 has much of a niche in global transpo, but this short-hopping double-handful of passengers niche seems to be the one which might work. Good luck to them. The fears are entirely misplaced.
Fritz
Wrong way!
Why not go for bio - ethanol?
It can be 150% zero emission as the straw becomes humus!