Above: A Twin Otter with the ZeroAvia ZA600 hydrogen-electric propulsion system at Playa Blanca

New Spanish operator Surcar Airlines, ‘committed to spearheading the electrification of aviation to enable zero-emission flights in the Canary Islands,’ has signed an agreement to retrofit its Twin Otter seaplanes with the ZeroAvia ZA600 powertrain.

The newly launched airline, a ‘groundbreaking startup with a unique blend of Danish and Canarian capital,’ is backed by investors including Danish carrier Nordic Seaplanes. Aiming to pioneer ‘captivating, green sightseeing flights’, the company also hopes to ‘inspire and drive other operators towards adopting sustainable practices’.

Surcar Airlines’ platform of choice to ‘bring back the magic of seaplane travel’ is the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, initially commencing operations with an unspecified number of conventionally-powered aircraft before switching to hydrogen-electric engines. “Millions visit each year to see the incredible natural beauty and world heritage sites here in the Canary Islands,” said Gerardo Morales-Hierro, Founder and CEO of Sugar Airlines, adding that “working with ZeroAvia will help [the airline] to deliver cleaner flights, while also fostering positive impacts on the local community and the environment.”

ZeroAvia recently completed an initial ten test flights of its proprietary hydrogen-electric, 600kW ZA600 powertrain aboard a Dornier 228 testbed. Suitable for a nine to 19-seat aircraft, this system is on track for certification over the next two to three years.  ZeroAvia has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with de Havilland of Canada, type certificate holder of the Twin Otter.

Descrbing the Canaries as a “perfect use case for the earliest zero-emission flights, given the opportunity for replacing combustion engines on short island-to-island routes,” James Peck, Chief Customer Officer at ZeroAvia added that developing greener ways of inter-island travel will “help further increase the appeal of one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations”.