British Airways Boeing 777-200ER G-VIIP. Photo: Aaron Davis

LONDON – British Airways (BA) has partnered up with ZeroAvia to explore how hydrogen-powered aircraft would play a leading role in the future of sustainable flight.

As such, ZeroAvia, a leading innovator in decarbonizing commercial aviation, will be integrated in the core of the airline through this alliance, which represents the value of sustainability at BA.

Together with mentors and experts, the team will work remotely to explore the transformational possibilities of switching from fossil fuels to zero-emission hydrogen to power the airline’s future fleet.

British Airways 777-200ER, G-YMMI. Photo: Aldo Bidini via Wikimedia

The Partnership

ZeroAvia gained global acclaim in September 2020 when it accomplished a significant technological breakthrough by completing the world’s first commercial-size aircraft hydrogen fuel cell powered flight from Cranfield Airport.

The Piper M-class six-seat plane completed taxi, take-off, a full pattern circuit, and landing.

According to the company, the collaboration is part of the industry-leading Hangar 51 accelerator program of IAG, which works with start-ups and scale-ups from around the world, giving them the ability to build and test their ideas on a global scale to solve real-world market challenges.

Research and learnings from the process will be exchanged at the conclusion of the program and the ZeroAvia and Hangar 51 teams will discuss how the relationship will advance in the longer term.

British Airways B777-300ER (G-STBF). Photo: Kentaro Iemoto

Commercially Viable in 2023

ZeroAvia plans to demonstrate its technology’s reputation in the longer term and use of larger aircraft in 2021. The company expects to achieve commercialization of hydrogen-electric power for aircraft with up to 500-mile flights in up to 20-seater aircraft as early as 2023.

Additionally, ZeroAvia plans to provide in-service power plants capable of powering commercial flights of more than 500 miles in aircraft with up to 100 seats by 2027 and more than 1,000 miles in aircraft with 100+ seats by 2030.

Both BA and ZeroAvia are part of the Jet Zero Committee, a government-industry alliance to move forward the net zero-emission goals of the UK government for the aviation and aerospace sector.

British Airways Boeing 777-300ER. Photo: British Airways

Statement from British Airways

Sean Doyle, CEO of BA, said, “BA is committed to a sustainable future and  achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

“In the short-term this means improving our operational efficiency and introducing carbon offset and removal projects, while in the medium to longer term we’re investing in the development of sustainable aviation fuel and looking at how we can help accelerate the growth of new technologies such as zero emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft.”

Louise Evans, Director of External Communications & Sustainability, said, “We are very excited to partner with ZeroAvia and get a glimpse of a zero-emissions future using hydrogen powered aircraft.”

“During the partnership, as well as assessing the environmental advantages of the technology, we will also be exploring the operational, commercial and customer experience improvements that can be achieved.”

Photo: British Airways

Statement from ZeroAvia

Sergey Kiselev, ZeroAvia’s Head of Europe, said, “ZeroAvia’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to truly zero emissions flight and we believe hydrogen is the best way to quickly and practically achieve this.”

“Earlier this year, we proved that passengers will soon be able to board an emissions free, hydrogen-powered aircraft for commercial services. In the years to come, we will scale that technology up to power larger aircraft over longer distances.”

Kiselev also said, “We have found that in addition to improving the sustainability of flight, which is vital, hydrogen-electric technology has the potential to lower operating costs and improve the in-flight passenger experience.”

“We are delighted to be working with BA, one of the world’s iconic airlines, and the Hangar 51 programme to explore how hydrogen-electric aircraft can power the fleet of the future. That promising future is closer than ever.”

Featured image: British Airways Boeing 777-200ER G-VIIP. Photo: Aaron Davis