British Airways partners with ZeroAvia to speed up the switch to hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft
British Airways (BA) has teamed up with ZeroAvia, a leading innovator in decarbonizing commercial aviation (earlier post), in a project to explore how hydrogen-powered aircraft can play a leading role in the future of sustainable flying.
The collaboration, which reflects the importance of sustainability at British Airways, will see ZeroAvia embedded in the heart of the airline. The team will work remotely alongside mentors and experts to explore the transformational possibilities of moving from fossil fuels to zero-emission hydrogen to power the airline’s future fleet.
In September 2020, ZeroAvia achieved a major technological breakthrough by completing the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered flight of a commercial-size aircraft, which took off from Cranfield Airport. The Piper M-class six-seat plane completed taxi, take-off, a full pattern circuit, and landing.
ZeroAvia’s hydrogen fuel cell powered flight at Cranfield in September.
The partnership forms part of BA parent IAG’s Hangar 51 accelerator program, which works with start-ups and scale-ups from around the world, providing them with an opportunity to develop and test their products on real world business challenges on a global scale. At the end of the program, research and learnings from the process will be shared and the ZeroAvia and Hangar 51 teams will consider how the partnership will progress longer term.
British Airways is committed to a sustainable future and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In the short-term this means improving our operational efficiency and introducing carbon offset and removal projects, while in the medium to longer term we’re investing in the development of sustainable aviation fuel and looking at how we can help accelerate the growth of new technologies such as zero emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft.—Sean Doyle, CEO of British Airways
In 2021, ZeroAvia expects to further demonstrate the credibility of its technology at longer ranges and using larger aircraft. The company expects to achieve the commercialization of hydrogen-electric power for aircraft as early as 2023 with flights of up to 500 miles (805 km) in up to 20-seater aircraft. By 2027, it plans to have powerplants in service capable of powering commercial flights of more than 500 miles in aircraft with up to 100 seats and by 2030 more than 1,000 miles in aircraft with 100+ seats.
Both British Airways and ZeroAvia are part of the Jet Zero Council, a partnership between government and industry to drive forward the UK Government’s net zero-emission ambitions for the aviation and aerospace sector.