ABOVE: The Dornier 228 testbed has completed ten flights from Cotswold Airport, Gloucestershire 

ZeroAvia has moved one step closer to making its mission of a ‘hydrogen-electric, zero-emission powertrain in every aircraft’ a reality with the completion of its initial prototype ZA600 engine flight test campaign.

Part of the HyFlyer II project, partly funded by the UK Government via the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) in conjunction with Innovate UK and the Department for Business and Trade, ZeroAvia aims to develop a 300-mile regional aircraft by 2025 using pioneering hydrogen-electric propulsion technology.

Fitted to a Dornier 228 testbed, the hydrogen-electric propulsion engine has ‘matched the power of the conventional, fossil fuel engine on the opposite wing, with the pilots able to fly with thrust generated only from the experimental clean propulsion system in certain tests’.

Following the ‘world-first flight of the system’ in January 2023, ZeroAvia has sequentially tested different areas of performance across various additional flights. These have included operating the aircraft from just above freezing to almost 30 degrees C, an endurance test lasting 23 minutes, flying at an altitude of 5,000ft and reaching the maximum allowable speed under the aircraft’s Permit to Fly.

The tenth flight in the initial series, completed last week at Cotswold Airport, marks the culmination of the initial flight test programme; ‘paving the way for successful certification work’. Describing how “zero-emission flight technologies are moving from promise to delivery,” Val Miftakhov, Founder and CEO for ZeroAvia, added: “We do not have to push the unappealing choices on passengers of paying more or flying less to deliver climate conscious air travel. We instead can adopt this technology quickly to reduce climate impact and air pollution.”

ZeroAvia has already secured experimental certificates for its three prototype aircraft from the CAA and FAA, secured pre-orders for nearly 2,000 engines from ‘a number of major global airlines’, and is described as being ‘on track’ for commercial operations in 2025. Gabriele Teofili, Head of Aircraft Integration Testing at ZeroAvia, added that although the Dornier 228 testbed will “always have a place in [ZeroAvia’s] hearts,” he’s “excited to take it on its next adventure and head further afield”.