Zero-emission, hydrogen-powered air travel is the aim of a new partnership between ZeroAvia and Birmingham Airport (BHX).
ZeroAvia is a specialist in zero-emission technologies including hydrogen-electric engines for aircraft, with a prototype successfully test-flown at its base in Kemble, Gloucestershire, in January. Hydrogen-electric engines use hydrogen in fuel cells to generate electricity, which is then used to power electric motors to turn the aircraft’s propellers. The only emission is water.
In a move that would make zero-emission travel to Mediterranean holiday destinations a reality, ZeroAvia is aiming to get an emissions-free engine for 80-seat aircraft flying up to 700 nautical miles by 2027, achieving distances of up to 1,000 nautical miles soon after.
For BHX, the partnership with ZeroAvia sits alongside its own journey to become a net-zero-carbon airport by 2033, as outlined in its carbon roadmap, published in 2022. The airport plans to use an area on its airfield for hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, testing and operations.
“Birmingham Airport can be a central hub in a green flight network in the UK, given that any domestic mainland destination will be reachable from the airport using our first systems in 2025,” said Arnab Chatterjee, VP, infrastructure, ZeroAvia.
“Given the commitments of the Jet Zero Strategy on domestic aviation, it is fantastic to engage with forward-thinking airports that want to be early innovators and developers to deliver the vision of bringing truly clean, quiet and pollution-free flights to the UK.”
Simon Richards, chief finance and sustainability officer at BHX, said: “We are thrilled to partner with ZeroAvia on creating solutions to the main challenge of our generation – protecting the future of our planet. We could, quite conceivably, see the first hydrogen-powered domestic passenger flight taking off from BHX in the UK in the next few years. That’s mind-blowing.”