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The statement comes after the government announced a major push towards hydrogen earlier this year, claiming the fuel, which currently contributes a minuscule part of the UK’s energy and fuel mix, could account for up to 35 per cent of the UK’s energy consumption by 2050.
This innovative project demonstrates the enormous potential of liquid hydrogen-powered aircraft as the UK strives for a cleaner and greener air travel future. This project builds on the work already done by the Jet Zero Council, whose members consist of Neville Hargreaves, Vice President of Velocys, an Oxfordshire-based waste-to-fuels company, Professor Peter Littlewood, Executive Chairman of The Faraday Institution in Harwell, and Val Miftakhov, Chief Executive Officer of Cotswold Airport-based ZeroAvia, a leading innovator in hydrogen-electric zero-emission powertrains. The collaboration between industry and government with the same objective of delivering zero-emission transatlantic flights within a generation.
The government-funded FlyZero project, coordinated by the ATI, has produced a proposal for a midsize aircraft fuelled by liquid hydrogen. This aircraft can carry 279 passengers halfway around the world without stopping, or anywhere in the world with only one refuelling stop. This means that a zero-carbon, non-stop trip could be flown between London and San Francisco, or that people could fly around the world in the same speed and comfort as today’s planes from London to Auckland, New Zealand.
On September 24 2020, ZeroAvia was one of the first to complete a hydrogen-fuelled commercial-grade aircraft flight using their Piper M-class six-seater turboprop. The Piper M-class completed taxi, take-off, a full pattern circuit, and landing on September 24 at ZeroAvia’s research and development facility in Cranfield, England, as part of their Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) programme.
How it works
Liquid hydrogen fuel is stored in cryogenic fuel tanks at around -250C in the aft fuselage and two smaller “cheek” tanks along the forward fuselage. These cheek tanks also serve to keep the aircraft balanced in the air as the fuel burns off. The midsize design is recognised to suit the needs of a market segment which now served by single aisle and widebody aircraft, which combined account for 93% of aviation’s carbon emissions.
The CEO of ZeroAvia Val Miftakhov said “It’s hard to put into words what this means to our team, but also for everybody interested in Zero-emission flight. While some experimental aircraft have flown using hydrogen fuel cells as a power source, the size of this commercially available aircraft shows that paying passengers could be boarding a truly zero-emission flight very soon.”
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “These designs could define the future of aerospace and aviation. By working with industry, we are showing that truly carbon-free flight could be possible with hydrogen a front-runner to replace conventional fossil fuels.
“Fuelling planes sustainably will enable the public to travel as we do now, but in a way that doesn’t damage the planet. It will not only help us to end our contribution to climate change, but also represents a huge industrial opportunity for the UK.”
A statement from the chief executive of the Jet Zero council, Emma Gilthorpe, said: “This ground-breaking green technology looks set to play a critical role in decarbonising flight and through the work of the Jet Zero Council, the UK aviation sector is exploring all avenues to ensure we protect the benefits of flying for future generations while cutting the carbon cost.”
Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) has also joined the mission to get one step closer to making zero-emissions flight commercially available by 2025.
Isles of Scilly Steamship Group (ISSG) has sold the company a Britten-Norman Islander, which will be retrofitted using hydrogen fuel cell technology. CAeS is the UK SME leading the Project Fresson collaboration, which is developing a commercially viable, retrofit powertrain solution for aviation using hydrogen fuel cell technology.
The Islander’s arrival in CAeS’s hangar is a significant step forward in the development of the world’s first regulatory-certified, zero-emissions commercial passenger-carrying aircraft.
As we celebrate the gradual recovery of the aviation industry following the devastating impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is important to remember that we are all looking and working towards a future where our collective environmental impact can be reduced. These exciting projects have continued in the face of great adversity and will continue to forge ahead as we move in to 2022; it is important that all aviation businesses begin to consider their transition to a more sustainable economy.
Therefore, if you have any specialist recruitment needs to ensure your business is planning ahead for a greener future, please do reach out to AeroProfessional, who, with many years’ experience, are best placed to find you the perfect candidates for any role.