California-based startup ZeroAvia unveiled a hydrogen-fueled electric powertrain prototype targeted at 500-mile regional flights in 10- to 20-seat fixed-wing aircraft on Wednesday. As shown in the video below, the company has been flight testing the powertrain in a Piper Matrix airframe since last February, recently completing a second full pattern flight in the aircraft. According to ZeroAvia, flight testing so far has “validated key components and their integration into a complete powertrain system” and confirmed “’fuel’ economy and maximum power delivery targets.”
“Using hydrogen produced from local renewable energy is the most practical way to enable zero-emission aircraft of commercially meaningful size on traditional 300- to 500-mile regional missions,” said ZeroAvia founder and CEO Val Miftakhov. “It will also be more economical than conventional turbine engines, or even the battery-based systems, on the total cost basis.” Miftakhov says ZeroAvia has calculated that the total costs of operating one of its aircraft will be “close to half of what it costs to fly a conventional turbine aircraft, due to lower fuel input costs, higher powertrain efficiency, and reduced maintenance costs.”
In addition to the regional market, ZeroAvia believes its powertrain will be suitable for aviation applications including cargo, air taxi and agriculture. The company is planning to begin offering its platform to aircraft manufacturers and commercial operators in 2022.