Feature: ZeroAvia – the future of commercial aviation

In the rolling Gloucestershire countryside, amid farms and quaint dry-stone villages, lies an unassuming airfield in whose hangars the future of commercial aviation is being created. ZeroAvia, which was founded in 2018, conducted the world’s first zero-emission flight just a year after its inception, but is now working alongside both manufacturers and airlines to bring hydrogen-powered flight into the forefront of commercial aviation.

“Our mission here is hydrogen-electric engines in every aircraft,” proclaims CEO and founder Val Miftakhov in one of his enthusiastic press campaigns – and, this is not as unlikely a proposition as it may initially sound. Miftakhov’s team is already developing the next leap in its signature technology: namely, a 19-seat Dornier 228 airliner with ZeroAvia’s revolutionary ZA600 powerplant.

In California, the company is conducting training flights with an as-yet unmodified DO-228, in order to gain a better understanding of its handling characteristics with the standard configuration. At Cotswold Airport, meanwhile, a former Aurigny example of the type is already conducting ground runs with the new hydrogen technology.

Zero Avia’s first Dornier 228 to be fitted with its ZA600 powertrain – Image: Zero Avia

Perhaps the most crucial test, however, is from ZeroAvia’s potential customers, without whom the project would never see the light of day. Remarkably, several major airlines in the United States have already signed agreements with the firm, with Derek Kerr, American Airlines’ Chief Financial Officer writing that, “ZeroAvia’s emerging hydrogen-electric engine technology has the potential to play a key role in the future of sustainable aviation.”

ZeroAvia’s future certainly looks bright, and we are eagerly awaiting the first flight of its first hydrogen-powered airliner in the coming months.