The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has granted ZeroAvia’s Dornier 228 aircraft a permit to fly, which has been retrofitted with a prototype hydrogen-electric powertrain. ZeroAvia secured the permit following extensive ground tests and a rigorous review of the development program.

Claiming to be the leader in zero-emission aviation, ZeroAvia can now begin test flights of its 600kW hydrogen-electric powertrain. The 19-seat twin-engine aircraft has been retrofitted in an engineering testbed configuration to incorporate ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric engine powering the propellor on its left wing, operating alongside a single Honeywell TPE-331 stock engine on the right for redundancy to allow safe testing of the propulsion technology.

The test flights are set to be a landmark achievement for ZeroAvia and the HyFlyer II project, a major R&D program backed by the UK Government’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) programme for the development of a 600kW hydrogen-electric powertrain for 9-19 seat aircraft.

ZeroAvia has worked with the CAA in meeting a far more stringent set of requirements when compared to the E-Conditions framework ZeroAvia had used for its 6-seat prototype in 2020.

Part 21 is an industry-standard term used to describe the regulatory approval of aircraft design and production organizations, and the certification of products, parts, and appliances for aircraft. Securing this permit to fly is a significant milestone in ZeroAvia’s path towards commercialization.

ZeroAvia founder & CEO Val Miftakhov said: “Earning our full Part 21 permit to fly with the CAA is a critical milestone as we develop a zero-emission aviation propulsion system that will be the most environmental and economical solution to the industry’s climate impact.

“It will pave the way for a commercially certifiable configuration for ZA600 to be submitted by the end of 2023, ahead of delivering powertrains for the first commercial routes for 9-19 seat aircraft to commence by 2025.”

ZeroAvia has 1,500 engines under pre-order, partnerships with seven aircraft manufacturers and multiple fuel and airport partnerships. When test flights begin in January, ZeroAvia’s Dornier 228 testbed is expected to become the largest aircraft to fly using a hydrogen-electric powertrain.

Last November, ZeroAvia agreed to explore the development of hydrogen fuel infrastructure with AGS Airports, including regulatory framework requirements and resourcing required for delivering zero-emission flights from Aberdeen and Glasgow airports.

The previous month, ZeroAvia acquired leading fuel cell stack innovator HyPoint, whose advanced high-temperature fuel cell technology for increasing power output and energy density of aviation fuel cell powertrains will add to ZeroAvia’s expertise in developing the full powertrain to enable hydrogen-electric flight.