ZeroAvia launches 1.8MW hydrogen electric engines and 76-seat aircraft

ZeroAvia, a developer of hydrogen and electric planes, has just taken delivery of a 76-passenger plane from Alaska Airlines, and can now retrofit it with zero-emissions technology as promised years ago. What’s more, the company’s developments in modular engine systems could enable test flights of the aircraft sooner than you think.

ZeroAvia is a zero-emission airline specializing in hydrogen and electric propulsion solutions. With operations in both the United States and the United Kingdom, the company currently has three model aircraft pilot certificates from the CAA and the FAA.

The company is targeting commercial electric aircraft operations starting with a 300-mile range and 19-9-seat aircraft by 2025 and is already looking at 40-80-seat aircraft with a range of 700 miles by 2027.

In late December of 2022, ZeroAvia confirmed that it had finally secured the necessary clearance in the UK to acquire the twin-engine 19-seater Dornier 228, and had done so (on video) by mid-January.

While the Dornier 228 was at the time, the world’s largest hydrogen-electric aircraft, we’ve been awaiting updates regarding the 76-seat Bombardier Q400 that Alaska Air Group’s parent company, Alaska Air Group, has promised to ZeroAvia. and an investor in the airline development company along with competitors such as United Airlines.

Development plans for that larger hydrogen-electric plane were announced in October 2021, but it wasn’t until recently that Alaska Airlines handed the plane over to ZeroAvia to begin modifying it with zero-emissions technology.

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ZeroAvia’s 1.8 MW ‘HyperCore’ electric propulsion system configuration / Credit: ZeroAvia

ZeroAvia receives the aircraft for electric hydrogen conversion

During a ceremony in Washington state that included Governor Jay Inslee and US Representative Susan Delbenim, Alaska Airlines officially delivered ZeroAvia the Bombardier Q400 regional turboprop (also referred to as the Dash 8-400) that it promised a year and a half ago.

While ZeroAvia garnered public attention at its R&D site, it also took the opportunity to publicly release its “HyperCore” engine modules. The company demonstrated zero-emissions fan rotation attached to its 15-ton HyperTruck test rig. The prototype configuration consists of a modular 1.8 MW electric motor system consisting of two 900 kW HyperCore drive units operating at 20,000 rpm, matching typical turbine engine speeds while providing 15 kW/kg of engine power density.

ZeroAvia shared that the modularity of its HyperCore system design allows for zero-emission aviation applications ranging from 900kW to 5.4MW – thus one day providing the potential to successfully propel the 76-seat Dash 8-400 electric aircraft. Maybe early next year. ZeroAvia Founder and CEO Val Miftakhov explained:

Showing this size of aircraft in flight, fully powered by the new propulsion, would have been unimaginable a few years ago. The launch of this program puts us on track for test flight next year, and accelerates our progress toward a zero-emission flight future for Alaska Airlines and for the world at large.

Looking ahead, the company should also certify the ZA2000 propulsion system powered by the new modular HyperCore engines as well. As with news of all-electric aircraft, this is an exciting story to follow, and we look forward to the next update from ZeroAvia and look forward to getting the Q400 airborne.

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