ZeroAvia’s 19-seater Dornier 228 made its first test flight in the UK. It’s a test bed for the company’s clean aviation technology, which uses a zero-emission hydrogen-electric powertrain and is expected to be certified and flying commercially by 2025.
The HyFlyer II program continues ZeroAvia’s aggressive drive to demonstrate that hydrogen is the way forward in aviation. The original HyFlyer program put a six-seater plane in the air in 2020, and it was the largest hydrogen-powered plane ever flown. He has now completed more than 30 flights
Today, one of the company’s two 19-seater jets entered the test flight phase for the first time, albeit with a more cautious application of technology. ZeroAvia left the standard Honeywell TPE-331 combustion engine on the right wing, while fitting the left wing with a 600 kW electric motor.
In this test machine, the hydrogen tanks, fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries are located inside the cockpit, where they are easily accessible and controllable.
ZeroAvia says it hopes to have a fully commercial configuration ready to submit for certification later this year, in which the entire powertrain will remain outside the cockpit, presumably in the wing. The company expects this 600kW propulsion system to be fully certified and capable of commercial flight with 9- to 19-seat aircraft by 2025.
The company estimates that this powertrain will have a autonomy of about 556 km, making it suitable for regional flights. A standard Dornier 228, for example, can carry 19 passengers for a distance of up to 1,130 km, according to Simple Flying. The only 19-seat battery-electric aircraft that can be compared is Swedish Heart Aerospace’s ES-19, which promised a range of 402 km before being dropped in favor of a 40-seat hybrid design with fossil energy reserves.
The hydrogen powertrain’s range figures might not sound terribly impressive for a clean fuel touted for its energy-density benefits, but the next step is already underway; ZeroAvia is working on a 2.5 MW powertrain by 2026, intended for aircraft between 40 and 80 seats, with an expected range of 1,850 km. From there, everything will go further.