'The strongest possible validation': Airbus & ZeroAvia Seal Investment in Hydrogen Aviation Venture
In a move that resonates as the most compelling endorsement of green aviation's potential, aerospace behemoth Airbus has cast its lot with ZeroAvia, a vanguard in the zero-emission aviation realm. This alliance manifests as Airbus forays into a new financial chapter with ZeroAvia, accompanied by other notable investors like Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital and NEOM.
The monetary specifics remain under wraps. However, the transaction speaks volumes about the burgeoning confidence in ZeroAvia's UK-based operations. And it's not just Airbus tipping the scales here; an array of investors, including but not limited to Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Alaska Airlines, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, AP Ventures, and Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, are all in on this game-changing round of investment.
So, what's on the table? ZeroAvia asserts that this influx of capital will be a jet fuel alternative—propelling them closer to obtaining the critical certification for their inaugural engine. It's more than money; it's about accelerating the dreams of commercial-scale, carbon-neutral aviation.
The collaboration between Airbus and ZeroAvia continues with money changing hands, far from it. Both aviation leaders have mutually decided to untangle the intricate web of hydrogen power system certification. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. They're joining forces to crack the code on several engineering enigmas, ranging from liquid hydrogen fuel storage to field and lab tests for fuel cell propulsion systems. Let's not forget the Herculean task of creating a new hydrogen-refueling landscape.
ZeroAvia's ambitious quest has seen multiple successful test flights using their hydrogen electric engine tech. And now, eyes are set on getting the rubber stamp for their first commercial engine offering—the ZA600. In an aspirational forecast, ZeroAvia aims to roll out the ZA600 for smaller commercial aircraft, accommodating up to 20 passengers, come 2025.
But wait, there's more! Enabled by this latest financial backing, ZeroAvia is already plotting the course for its next big thing—the ZA2000. This beast of an engine, with a modular powertrain ranging from 2 to 5.4MW, aims to redefine what commercial aircraft can achieve. To put their theories to the ultimate test, ZeroAvia is retrofitting a Dash 8 400, a 76-seater testbed provided by Alaska Airlines. The first full-scale engine test flight will tear through the skies in 2024 if all goes well.
"Anybody following the development of hydrogen aviation - and its potential to transform the industry - will see this investment as a positive step," said Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO at ZeroAvia. "Airbus has led the way with its zero-emission vision and commitment to extensive R&D programs. For ZeroAvia to now have investors such as Airbus coming on board is the strongest possible validation of the prospects for hydrogen-electric propulsion technology."
Glenn Llewellyn, vice president of Airbus' ZEROe program, echoed his comments. "ZeroAvia has already been successful in flight testing fuel cell propulsion and hydrogen storage and distribution systems on board their Do-228 flight test platform, which puts them in a strong position to take their technologies to the next phase of development," he said. "In addition, ZeroAvia is supporting the development of a wider hydrogen ecosystem for aviation - technologies, decarbonized hydrogen supply, and certification of hydrogen propulsion systems - which all complement well with our own ambition to bring a ZEROe hydrogen-powered aircraft to service by 2035."
So there you have it. Airbus and ZeroAvia's partnership stands as a lighthouse in a landscape craving innovation, signaling the way forward for an industry poised on the brink of revolutionary change.