Alaska Air Group collaborating with ZeroAvia to develop hydrogen powertrain for 76-seat zero-emission aircraft
ZeroAvia announced a development collaboration with Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines, for a hydrogen-electric powertrain capable of flying 76-seat regional aircraft in excess of 500 NM. Alaska is also joining the list of top investors for the company, alongside a fellow Seattle-based Amazon Climate Pledge Fund and Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
Alaska and ZeroAvia engineers will work together to scale the company’s existing powertrain platform to produce the ZA2000, an engine family capable of producing between 2,000 and 5,000 kilowatts of power with a 500-mile range. The partnership will initially deploy a 3MW+ hydrogen-electric powertrain system into a full-size De Havilland Q400 aircraft, previously operated by Alaska Air Group subsidiary Horizon Air Industries, Inc., capable of transporting 76 passengers.
ZeroAvia will also work closely with aircraft regulators during this project to ensure the aircraft meets both safety and operational requirements. ZeroAvia will set up a location in the Seattle area to support this initiative.
Alaska has also secured options for up to 50 kits to begin converting its regional aircraft to hydrogen-electric power through ZeroAvia’s zero-emission powertrain, starting with the Q400 aircraft. This pioneering zero-emission aviation rollout will be supported by the ground fuel production and dispensing infrastructure from ZeroAvia and its infrastructure partners, such as Shell. Working to advance novel propulsion is one of the five parts of Alaska’s strategy to achieve net zero.
Recently, ZeroAvia also successfully ground-tested its 600 kW powertrain capable of flying airframes 10-20 seats in size 500 miles, is well advanced in preparing a 19-seat aircraft for flight testing at Cotswold Airport in the UK and is moving to full-size prototype manufacturing of its 2,000 kW engine for demonstrations in 2022.
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 for its 600 kW engines, and 2026 for its 2,000-5,000 kW engine platform. 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.
Earlier this week, 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 signed an agreement to cooperate in developing hydrogen-electric propulsion for regional jet applications. (Earlier post.)