Cotswold Airport-based ZeroAvia, a leading innovator in hydrogen-electric zero emission powertrains, has signed an agreement to partner with ASL Aviation Holdings in developing hydrogen-electric engine conversions for ATR72 aircraft. The project will ultimately include an order with ZeroAvia for converting up to 10 of ASL’s owned ATR72 freighter aircraft to hydrogen-electric propulsion, resulting in zero emission cargo operations.
The flight innovator has also announced a development collaboration with the Indian state-owned aerospace & defence company Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for a hydrogen-electric powertrain capable of flying the 19 seat Dornier 228 aircraft up to 500 NM.
Under the first deal announced, ASL Airlines Ireland will provide a retired ATR72F aircraft for the program development and subsequent use as a demonstrator. ASL will then convert a number of owned aircraft on its freight operations, resulting in the launch of zero-emission hydrogen-electric powered operations for the carrier from 2026 onwards.
Under the second deal, HAL intends to work with ZeroAvia to develop a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) to allow retrofit of existing airframes for both Indian military and worldwide operators. HAL also intends to continue to build new aircraft with additional FAA approval, designated Hindustan-228, creating the opportunity to incorporate ZeroAvia’s ZA600 zero-emission engines. Additionally, HAL and ZeroAvia engineers will integrate ZeroAvia’s ZA600 hydrogen-electric powertrain into the Dornier 228 airframe. ZeroAvia will work closely with HAL and aircraft regulators during this project to ensure that aircraft meets both safety and operational requirements.
ASL Aviation Holdings and ZeroAvia are members of the ASL CargoVision Forum, an initiative to drive innovation and sustainability in the air cargo industry. Working together in this forum, ZeroAvia and ASL aim to use ZeroAvia’s new technology to reduce emissions progressively in the regional sector where connectivity is a critical issue.
Dave Andrew, CEO, ASL Aviation Holdings, said: “This deal with ZeroAvia’s further strengthens ASL’s commitment to being a first-mover in the introduction of new emissions reduction technology in our current fleet. ZeroAvia will support us in the provision of cargo services and vital connectivity in an environmentally sustainable way without having to wait for the introduction of new aircraft types.
“It’s critical for ASL that we take immediate steps to reduce our carbon footprint and ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric powertrain will allow us to operate cost effective regional freight services using existing aircraft that are now powered by traditional turbines. ZeroAvia’s early flight test successes are promising, and we are also excited by the extensive R&D they have put into the green hydrogen production and the refueling ecosystem needed to support air operations.
Val Miftakhov, CEO and founder, ZeroAvia said: “ASL has identified zero emissions technology as an enormous priority and, happily, is pursuing the opportunity with energy. Given our success in demonstrating the technology in flight testing, the advanced nature of the R&D for our first certifiable configuration, and the technological progress we are making, we are confident that this partnership will lead to some of the earliest commercial freight operations using hydrogen-electric propulsion.
ZeroAvia will collaborate with ASL on the development of its ZA2000 Powertrain. This engine replacement is a 2 – 5 megawatt (MW) powertrain for aircraft models that are typically outfitted with 40 – 90 seats in passenger configurations. The ATR variant is optimised to be retrofitted on the ATR72 aircraft and utilises a hydrogen fuel cell and electric motor powertrain.
To support the refueling of these aircraft, ZeroAvia is currently working toward scaling its already developed Hydrogen Airport Refuelling Ecosystem (HARE), which was developed with EMEC as part of the HyFlyer programme in the UK Government backed ATI programme. In addition, ZeroAvia was recently awarded a new transport research and innovation grant from the UK Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure (ZEFI) programme, in order to explore concepts for liquid hydrogen refuelling in an airport setting.