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JAL signs agreements with three hydrogen-electric aircraft/engine manufacturers on joint studies for introducing sustainable hydrogen-powered flight to Japan

Japan Airlines has separately signed basic agreements with three hydrogen-electric aircraft/engine manufacturers—H2FLY GmbH, Universal Hydrogen Co., and ZeroAvia Inc.—to study the safety, economic feasibility and maintainability etc., for hydrogen fuel cell-powered next generation aircraft.

JAL Engineering Co., Ltd. (JALEC), which is in charge of aircraft maintenance for the JAL Group, will continue coordination and cooperation on certifications and maintenance systems.

In pursuit of achieving Net Zero CO2 Emissions by 2050, JAL Group is conducting extensive studies for the future introduction of aircraft using new technologies such as hydrogen aircraft and electric aircraft. The three collaboration partners have already achieved hydrogen-fueled test flights and plan to enter into service hydrogen-electric aircrafts in the middle of the 2020s to 2030s, making them world leaders in the development of hydrogen-electric flights.

Building on these basic agreements, JAL will engage in extensive collaboration with the three companies, each of which has different characteristics, and contribute to the realization of hydrogen-electric, zero-emission commercial flights by sharing JAL’s knowledge of flight operations as a Japanese airline company.

Overview of partnerships:

  • Study on hydrogen-electric aircrafts latest technology from the viewpoints of safety, economic feasibility, and maintainability, etc., for future operations in Japan.

  • Reflect JAL’s knowledge as an airline in the design and specifications of hydrogen-electric aircraft.

  • Increase public awareness of the future application of hydrogen-electric aircraft in Japan.

H2FLY was founded by five engineers from the German Aerospace Center in Stuttgart and the University of Ulm, and is working to deliver to market the first qualified, fully hydrogen-electric aircraft powertrain. The HY4, the world’s first hydrogen-electric passenger aircraft, first took off in 2016, demonstrating both the feasibility and potential of this technology for the aviation of the future. H2FLY has a network of partners in industry and research, and is currently working to accelerate its technology development and commercialization with the support of German and European partnerships. In just a few years, hydrogen-electric aircraft are expected to be able to transport 40 passengers over distances of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles).

Universal Hydrogen takes a flexible, scalable, and capital-light approach to hydrogen logistics by transporting it in modular capsules over the existing freight network from green production sites directly to the airplane anywhere in the world. The company is targeting regional and narrowbody/single aisle airplanes as the near-term and most impactful decarbonization opportunities. Universal Hydrogen is also working to certify a powertrain conversion kit to retrofit existing regional aircraft to fly on hydrogen.

Initially developing engines to support a 300-mile range in 9–19 seat aircraft by the end of 2025, and up to 700-mile range in 40–80 seat aircraft by 2027, ZeroAvia has already secured experimental certificates for its three prototype aircraft from the CAA and FAA and passed significant flight test milestones. The company has secured a number of key partnerships with major aircraft OEMs and secured nearly 2,000 pre-orders for engines from a number of the major global airlines, with future revenue potential of more than $10 billion. ZeroAvia is part of the UK Government’s Jet Zero Council.


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