British Airways to invest in tech innovator ZeroAvia to speed up development of hydrogen-powered aircraft

©British Airways has invested in tech innovator ZeroAvia

British Airways has invested in ZeroAvia – a leading innovator in decarbonizing commercial aviation – in an effort to accelerate the development of 50+ seater aircraft capable of running on zero emissions hydrogen-electric power.

British Airways and a group of investors including Horizons Ventures, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, Shell Ventures, and SYSTEMIQ have invested a total of US$24.3 million, which will enable ZeroAvia to launch a new development program to further demonstrate the credibility of its technology and accelerate the development of a larger hydrogen-electric engine, capable of flying further and using larger aircraft as soon as 2026.

ZeroAvia says it could achieve commercialization for its hydrogen-electric power as early as 2024, with flights of up to 500-miles in up to 20-seater aircraft. With this new investment, ZeroAvia expects to have 50+ seat commercial aircraft in operation in five years’ time and it accelerates the company’s vision of powering a 100-seat single-aisle aircraft by 2030.

This new investment reflects the importance British Airways is placing on sustainability and supports the airline’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 through a series of short, medium and long-term initiatives. In addition to exploring and investing in the growth of these new longer-term technologies, the airline is also investing in the development of sustainable aviation fuels, flying more fuel-efficient aircraft and exploring the use of carbon capture technology.

In September 2020, ZeroAvia achieved the world’s first hydrogen-electric flight of a commercial-grade aircraft. Additionally, the company just completed a ground simulation of the complete power profile for its upcoming first cross-country flight. The ground test demonstrated a full battery shutdown in-flight using the company’s unique fuel cell powertrain configuration, allowing for complete removal of the battery system in the next configuration of the powertrain.

British Airways’ investment in ZeroAvia follows a recent partnership between the two companies announced at the end of last year. The airline teamed up with ZeroAvia through its parent company International Airlines Group’s (IAG) Hangar 51 accelerator program in a project to explore how hydrogen-powered aircraft can play a leading role in the future of sustainable flying. The project identified economic, network and consumer appeal advantages as well as clear environmental benefits.

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