British Airways - Smart Energy Decisions

Sourcing Renewables  -  December 18, 2020

British Airways explores hydrogen-powered aircraft development

British Airways announced Dec. 12 that it is teaming up with a sustainable aviation company on the development of hydrogen-powered aircraft and the decarbonization of the aviation sector.

The airline is working with ZeroAvia on this project, which in September completed the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell-powered flight of a commercial-grade aircraft. ZeroAvia will be working directly on the British Airways aircraft to explore opportunities to move from fossil fuels to zero-emission hydrogen in future models for the airline’s fleet.

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

The announcement of this project followed just a week earlier the retirement of British Airway’s final 757 aircraft, four years earlier than planned to make way for more fuel-efficient models. The airline’s parent company, IAG, also runs the Hangar 51 tech accelerator program that provides opportunities for startups around the world to scale their businesses; the Hangar 51 program is sponsoring this project with ZeroAvia and will assess its outcome at the end of the program to consider how the partnership could continue in the long term.

ZeroAvia expects to achieve the commercialization of hydrogen-electric power for aircraft as early as 2023 with flights of up to 500 miles in up to 20-seater aircraft. By 2027, it plans to be deploying commercial flights of over 500 miles in aircraft with up to 100 seats and by 2030 more than 1,000 miles in aircraft with more than 100 seats.

“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,” said Sergey Kiselev, ZeroAvia’s Head of Europe. “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."


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