Kemble Airport based ZeroAvia is developing hydrogen-electric aeroplanes, has announced a collaboration with Quebec-based MHI RJ Aviation Group (MHIRJ), the world’s largest CRJ Series aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul company.
The companies have signed an agreement to cooperate in developing hydrogen-electric propulsion for regional jet applications.
The collaboration with MHIRJ will leverage ZeroAvia’s hydrogen fuel cell powertrain technology and MHIRJ’s aircraft design, certification and support experience to create aircrafts which not only have the potential to deliver new aircraft with hydrogen-electric propulsion, but also to efficiently retrofit existing aircraft in the market.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding, MHIRJ will be supporting ZeroAvia by providing engineering services in support of the certification of the engines to PART 33 for aircraft, as well as assisting ZeroAvia by providing advisory services evaluating the feasibility of a green retrofit program for regional aircraft.
This marks a crucial step in ZeroAvia’s progress and entry into a wider market. A recognised leader in zero emission aircraft propulsion, focused on hydrogen-electric power, the company has completed more than 35 test flights of a Piper M-class six-seat aircraft using its hydrogen fuel cell powertrain. Currently, it is working to convert a larger 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft with its zero-emission powertrain with a first test flight expected in the coming months. ZeroAvia plans certification and market entry for its 19-seat powertrain by 2024, with an eye towards larger aircraft (50-80 seats) by 2026, and regional jets around 2028.
Hiro Yamamoto, President and CEO of MHIRJ, said: “Developing aviation solutions for the future requires a re-assessment of their environmental impact and developing new technologies to ensure that aviation lives up to the commitments required to meet carbon reduction targets. At MHIRJ we are working with propulsion innovators to ensure that we are at the forefront of such developments and can design solutions to move the world forward.
“Regional aircraft are key to keeping smaller communities and regions connected and are also more able to exploit the new technologies on the horizon than larger aircraft and, therefore this is a logical place for this development to begin and we are proud to be a part of this innovative solution.”
Val Miftakhov, CEO, ZeroAvia added: “We believe that in the future almost every aircraft in the world will be powered by hydrogen-electric engines, simply because it is the most viable and scalable method for eliminating carbon and also to cut the other harmful emissions from the aviation sector. This collaboration with MHIRJ is a significant milestone for us and the aviation industry as a whole. We are honored to work with MHIRJ to introduce hydrogen-electric propulsion technology into the regional jet segment and demonstrate the myriad of cost and emissions benefits airlines can derive from hydrogen fueled flight.”
ZeroAvia, which moved to Cotswold Airport near Cirencester in Gloucestershire from Cranfield in Bedfordshire earlier this year, has already secured experimental certificates for two prototype aircraft from the CAA and FAA, passed significant flight test milestones, and is on track for commercial operations in 2024. The company’s expanding UK operations are supported by grants from UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, and ZeroAvia is part of the UK Prime Minister’s Jet Zero Council.
Last month the company was awarded funding to help support UK airports in handling new types of electric and hydrogen aircraft. The 15 winning projects are all recipients of the Department for Transport’s latest Transport Research and Innovation Grant programme – TRIG: Zero Emission Flight, which is being delivered by Connected Places Catapult. This programme is part of the wider Zero Emissions Flight Infrastructure project, which will identify the opportunities and challenges associated with adopting zero emission aircraft within airport environments.
Headquartered in Montréal, Canada, and bolstered by an Aerospace Engineering Centre, MHIRJ’s network of service centres, support offices and parts depots are positioned in important aviation hubs in the USA, Canada and Germany. MHI RJ Aviation Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.