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