World’s largest zero-emission plane to be developed by Alaska Airlines and ZeroAvia

World’s largest zero-emission plane to be developed by Alaska Airlines and ZeroAvia

May 4, 2023 0 By Hydrogen Fuel News

Alaska Airlines has handed over a Q400 aircraft to be retrofitted by ZeroAvia.

Alaska Airlines has teamed up with ZeroAvia to develop a zero-emission plane. In a recent event that took place at ZeroAvia’s Paine Field research and development site, Alaska Airlines presented a Bombardier Q400 regional turboprop to ZeroAvia, which will retrofit the 76-seat aircraft with a hydrogen-electric propulsion system it will design and build.

The two companies want to expand the reach and applicability of zero emissions flight tech.

Alaska Airlines first formed a partnership with ZeroAvia and invested in the company back in 2021. The purpose of the partnership is to support the development of zero emissions propulsion technology for regional aircrafts. By establishing the viability of region-sized aircraft, both companies will help to expand zero emissions flight technology throughout the industry.

As part of this effort, when Horizon Air (Alaska Airlines’ regional carrier) retired its Q400 fleet, one of the aircraft was reserved for research and development purposes with the objective to further enhance zero emissions tech for the aviation industry. The future-intended zero-emission plane has since been repainted with a unique livery to emphasize the special mission of the Alaska Airlines-ZeroAvia partnership.

“This is a great step forward in aviation innovation, to help create a new future of flight – right here at home,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines CEO in a ZeroAvia news release. “New technologies are required to make that future possible, and we’re thrilled to partner with industry leader ZeroAvia to make new zero emissions options a reality.”

The zero-emission plane will be powered by “Novel Propulsion”.

Zero-Avia will equip the zero-emission plane with a hydrogen-electric engine that uses fuel cells to generate electricity from hydrogen fuel. The generated electricity will then be used to power electric motors that turn the aircraft’s propellers.

Zero-emisson plane - ZeroAvia’s HyperTruck testing hydrogen-electric powertrain in February 2022 - ZeroAvia YouTube

ZeroAvia’s novel, propulsion certifiable ZA2000 system includes the company’s in-house developed High Temperature PEM fuel cells and liquid H2 storage. Both are vital to providing the necessary energy density required by commercial operation of large regional turboprops.

At the recent event, the company debuted its breakthrough multi-megawatt modular electric motor system in a 1.8 MW prototype configuration. This was demonstrated with a propeller spin aboard the company’s 15-ton HyperTruck ground-test rig.

A test flight could be ready in 2024.

hydrogen news ebookAccording to the news release, aligning ZeroAvia’s powertrain with the airframe of the Dash 8-400 will represent a commercially viable zero-emission plane that is not only equipped with fuel cell engine technology, but will be about five times more powerful than anything that has been demonstrated to date.

“Demonstrating this size of aircraft in flight, powered entirely by novel propulsion, would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Launching this program puts us on track for a test flight next year, and accelerates our progress toward the future of zero-emission flight for Alaska Airlines and for the world at large,” said Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO of ZeroAvia.

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