ZeroAvia, a UK startup, has completed the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell passenger flight. According to a publication in Engineering and Technology journal, it lasted 20 minutes.
The landmark flight was made in a six-seater Piper commercial aircraft, which they upgraded with a new eco-friendly transmission. The flight was part of the ZeroAvia-funded HyFlyer project in the UK and they also completed the country’s first ever electrically powered aircraft flight.
ZeroAvia CEO Vala Miftakhova said the future of commercial hydrogen fuel cell flights is now closer than most experts assume.
Researchers are now testing power supplies, including on other vehicles such as dump trucks and pickup trucks. This upgrade to the Piper M-class powerplant also made it the world’s largest hydrogen-fueled aircraft, according to the manufacturer.
Like any other aircraft, the hydrogen-electric Piper performed takeoff, flight and landing. However, at this stage, in terms of flight range and carrying capacity, the ZeroAvia aircraft cannot yet compare with counterparts that run on fossil fuels.
“Although some experimental aircraft have flown using hydrogen fuel cells as a power source, the dimensions of this commercial aircraft show that passengers will indeed soon be able to fly in environmentally friendly devices,” the startup said.