ZeroAvia, the hydrogen-electric aircraft developer based in the United Kingdom and the United States, recently announced that it had received $24.3 million in funding. British Airways was among the group of investors that provided the recent funds. The other investors for the Series A4 funding were:
- Breakthrough Energy Systems
- Ecosystem Integrity Fund
- Shell Ventures
- Summa Equity
Horizon Ventures led the fundraising effort on behalf of ZeroAvia.
Goal to Build 50-Seat Hydrogen-Electric Aircraft in Next Five Years
Founded in 2017, ZeroAvia is a sustainable aviation company aiming to be a world leader in zero-emission flights. The company intends to bring hydrogen-electric solutions to a range of markets. One of its current projects is the accelerated development of a hydrogen-electric engine for use on an airplane transporting at least 50 people.
ZeroAvia Has Already Achieved Success With a Flight Powered by Hydrogen-Electric Fuel
In September 2020, the alternative aircraft developer flew the world’s first commercial-grade flight fueled entirely by hydrogen. ZeroAvia chose to launch a six-seat Piper Malibu that reached an altitude of 1,000 feet flying at a speed of 100 knots. The Piper Malibu airplane circled the airfield over Bedfordshire, United Kingdom, two times before landing.
The historic hydrogen-powered aircraft remained in the air for approximately eight minutes. ZeroAvia’s technology converts hydrogen gas into electricity to power airplanes. Hydrogen-electric technology emits only water and heat to create an emission-free mode of transportation.
Additional Long-Term Goals of ZeroAvia
The company has set an ambitious goal of commercializing flights powered by hydrogen-electric engines within the next three years. However, a spokesperson for ZeroAvia confirms that the company understands that it will take at least five years to launch a 50-seat aircraft powered only by hydrogen-electric fuel. By 2030, ZeroAvia hopes to fly a 100-seat, single-aisle aircraft.
On March 18, 2021, ZeroAvia completed a ground test 60-mile flight in preparation for eventually flying one of its hydrogen-powered airplanes across the United Kingdom. While in flight, the crew deliberately caused a battery shutdown to help them prepare for the possibility of later flights.
ZeroAvia’s Partnership With British Airways
British Airways contributed to funding for ZeroAvia because the airline aims to achieve zero-net emissions with all of its aircraft by 2050. The two companies formed a partnership in December 2020 to help the airline reach its goal of accelerating the transition from flights powered by traditional fuel to hydrogen-electric flights.
When they created the partnership, British Airways released a statement indicating its overall commitment to sustainable aviation. British Airways is looking to invest in carbon capture technology, sustainable aviation fuels, and creating aircraft with greater fuel efficiency.
The CEO of British Airways, Sean Doyle, commented on the rapid advancement of zero-emissions technology in December 2020. He said that British Airways fully supports developing hydrogen electricity as an alternative fuel source. Doyle and the rest of the upper management at British Airways believe that hydrogen-electric fuel offers the greatest potential for the airline to achieve zero-net emissions on its short-haul flights within the next 30 years.
Val Miftakhov launched his startup ZeroAvia four years ago and continues to serve as the company’s CEO. Miftakhov has long had an interest in electric sources of energy. Before starting ZeroAvia to explore hydrogen-electric jet engines, he founded and operated eMotorWerks. That company provided electric vehicle battery services. Selling eMotorWerks to the Enel Company allowed Miftakhov to focus on his dream of radically changing commercial aviation.
As a licensed pilot, Miftakhov hoped that launching his new company would provide him the opportunity to fly airplanes while also creating alternative power sources for them. He created ZeroAvia as part of his personal conviction to maintain responsible stewardship of the earth’s natural resources.
Hydrogen-electric powertrain technology has already proven that it offers several benefits. The first and most obvious benefit is that the alternative fuel source offers a dramatic decrease in carbon emissions and noise pollution. Aircraft using a powertrain fueled by hydrogen-electric power have also reduced maintenance and fuel costs.
Val Miftakhov believes that the time for the transportation industry to switch to alternative fuel sources is now. He cites statistics that indicate that all forms of transportation contribute one-third of all carbon emissions in the United States. Five years ago, transportation emissions surpassed power generation and coal emissions for the first time.
ZeroAvia exists today because no truly scalable solution to the problem of carbon emissions was available until now. The company intends to positively impact the environment with its hydrogen-electric flights, especially short-haul trips of under 1,000 nautical miles. The combined issues of larger airports, more passengers, and passenger demand for a more earth-friendly fuel solution have given ZeroAvia the motivation it needs to change the aviation industry forever.
Follow ZeroAvia on Twitter