ZeroAvia Completes First Round of Flight Tests with Hydrogen-Electric Aircraft

Developer of sustainable propulsion systems is looking forward to longer cross-country flights.

Hydrogen propulsion developer ZeroAvia said its recent flight-test campaign included altitude, speed, and endurance. [Courtesy: ZeroAvia]

ZeroAvia, a developer of zero-emission propulsion systems for aircraft, said it completed the initial series of 10 test flights of a Dornier 228 twin retrofitted with the company’s prototype ZA600 hydrogen-electric engine.

The series of tests, conducted at Cotswold Airport (EGBP) in the U.K., included cruise testing aimed at developing projections of the potential ranges the aircraft could cover using the experimental propulsion system. The recently completed flights also set the stage for longer cross-country flights that will be part of the next stage of testing, ZeroAvia said.

After performing the first flight of the Dornier test aircraft in January, with the ZA600 mounted on one wing and a conventional engine on the other, the company has tested a number of performance categories, including altitude, speed, and duration. 

The test aircraft has flown at 5,000 feet, performed an endurance test of 23 minutes, and operated in a range of temperatures from just above freezing to almost 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Critically, throughout all phases of testing, the fuel cell power generation and electric propulsion system that are the core components of the novel zero-emission engine performed at or above expectations,” the company said. “The hydrogen-electric engine has matched the power of the conventional, fossil fuel engine on the opposite wing, with the pilots able to fly with thrust generated only from the experimental clean propulsion system in certain tests.”

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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