UK’s first commercial-scale electric flight hailed a success

23rd June 2020 | Commercial Energy

ZeroAvia, a leading innovator in decarbonising commercial aviation, has conducted the “first electric-powered flight of a commercial-scale” aircraft carried out in the UK. The test flight is a significant milestone both for the UK’s net zero and green aviation ambitions, and for ZeroAvia on the journey to demonstrating long-distance zero emission flights in large aircraft. It comes ahead of the main test flight which is a UK-based 250-300 nautical mile flight from the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

The company successfully completed the first flight of the new version of its powertrain from its base at Cranfield Airport. ZeroAvia is focused on developing a hydrogen fuel cell “powertrain”. It says hydrogen-electric offers the same zero-emission potential of battery-electric, but has a much more promising energy-to-weight ratio, making it viable for commercial operations at a much larger scale and in a shorter time frame.

Electric Flight

Additionally, hydrogen-electric powertrain is projected to have lower operating costs due to the high cost of battery cycling in typical high-utilization regional aircraft. AeroAvia said that in spite of the challenges presented by the lockdown, and thanks to the support by the airport’s operations team, Cranfield University, and Cranfield Aerospace, the HyFlyer project has made big strides in progressing the programme with minimal delays.

The longer-distance hydrogen-electric test flights are planned for later this summer. Beyond HyFlyer, ZeroAvia plans commercially relevant, certified 10-20 seat configurations ready to go within three years, and 50-100 seat configurations in flight by the end of the decade. The company projects that aircraft over 200 seats with a range in excess of 3,000 nautical miles is achievable by 2040 without requiring any fundamental scientific breakthroughs.

A hydrogen refuelling infrastructure has recently been commissioned, and ZeroAvia has completed a full set of ground-based full-power flight simulations for its long-distance flights.

More information available on the website below