United States-based Alaska Airlines has handed over a Bombardier Q400 regional turboprop aircraft to ZeroAvia, which will be modified with a hydrogen-electric propulsion system.
This move aims to broaden the scope and practicality of zero-emission aviation technology.
Alaska Airlines Partners with ZeroAvia
During an event at ZeroAvia’s Paine Field research and development site, Alaska Airlines handed over a Bombardier Q400 regional turboprop to ZeroAvia. Subsequently, it will retrofit with a hydrogen-electric propulsion system.
The event was attended by Raisbeck Aviation High School students, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. It marked the official transfer of the 76-seat Q400 aircraft to ZeroAvia.
The U.S.-based company is a leader in designing and developing hydrogen-electric aircraft propulsion systems for zero-emission flight technology.
After retiring its Q400 fleet, Horizon Air, a regional carrier of Alaska Airlines, set aside one aircraft for research and development to continue exploring zero-emission technology for the aviation industry. Further, The plane has been painted with a special livery to showcase the innovative mission of the partnership.
ZeroAvia Unveiled Modular Electric Motor
ZeroAvia unveiled a 1.8MW prototype configuration of its multi-megawatt modular electric motor system at the event. Subsequently, it was demonstrated by a propeller spin on the HyperTruck ground-test rig weighing 15 tons.
Advanced electric motor technology is one of three essential components for enabling commercially-viable hydrogen fuel cell engines for larger aircraft. Further, it is paired with in-house developed higher-temperature PEM fuel cells and advanced power electronics.
ZeroAvia’s recent progress sets the stage for potential flight testing of the Q400, also known as the Dash 8-400, and demonstrates a swift development path toward the certification of the ZA2000 propulsion system.
ZeroAvia has already established a track record of leading world-first flight testing. In January, the company flew a refurbished 19-seat aircraft with a prototype 600kW hydrogen-electric engine (ZA600).
Following its demonstration flight of a 250kW system in 2020. At the time of the flight, this system was the largest-ever aircraft flown with an innovative zero-emission power source.
What to Expect Next?
Alaska Airlines established a partnership with ZeroAvia in 2021 with the aim of supporting the development of zero-emissions propulsion technology for regional aircraft.
As one of the largest U.S. airlines with a substantial regional network. Alaska is uniquely positioned to contribute to the progress of zero-emissions technology for regional aircraft.
Through the successful development of regional-sized aircraft, both companies will significantly advance zero-emissions technology throughout the aviation industry.
Alaska and ZeroAvia CEO Insights
According to Ben Minicucci, the CEO of Alaska Airlines, the partnership with ZeroAvia to develop the world’s largest zero-emission aircraft is a significant achievement in aviation innovation. This collaboration is expected to contribute to a future of more sustainable and environmentally friendly flights.
While Alaska Airlines has set a goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions. Minicucci acknowledged that new technologies are essential to achieving that objective. Further, He expressed his enthusiasm for partnering with ZeroAvia, an industry leader, to make zero-emission options a reality.
Val Miftakhov, the CEO and founder of ZeroAvia, expressed his excitement about the program and its potential impact, stating, “Just a few years ago, it would have been unimaginable to demonstrate this aircraft size in flight, powered entirely by advanced propulsion technology.
By launching this program, we’re on target to conduct a test flight next year. Which will significantly hasten our progress toward realizing a zero-emission aviation future for Alaska Airlines and the world.”
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