Mitsubishi and ZeroAvia to collaborate on design & development of hydrogen-electric technology for regional jets
MHI RJ Aviation Group (MHIRJ), a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the world’s largest CRJ Series Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul company, and ZeroAvia, an innovator in hydrogen-electric propulsion for aviation (earlier post), 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 aircraft solutions 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 MOU, 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. 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.
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.—Hiro Yamamoto, President and CEO of MHIRJ
Based in the UK and USA, ZeroAvia 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.