Alaska Airlines to develop world’s largest zero-emissions aircraft

Alaska Airlines has become the latest commercial operation to set its sights on hydrogen with a partnership with specialist developer ZeroAvia.

The airline has delivered a De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 turboprop to be retrofitted with a hydrogen-electric propulsion system by powertrain developer ZeroAvia.

The 76-seat Dash 8-400 is set to become the world’s largest zero-emissions aircraft, the companies said in a joint statement:

“Aligning ZeroAvia’s powertrain with the Dash 8-400 airframe will represent a commercially viable zero-emission aircraft with fuel cell engine technology around five times more powerful than what has been demonstrated anywhere to date.”  

Alaska Airlines has provided a Q400 tubroprop to be retrofitted by hydrogen-powertrain developer ZeroAvia

Alaska’s regional subsidiary Horizon Air recently retired its fleets of Dash 8-400s but set one of type aside for ”research and development purposes to further advance zero emissions technology for the aviation industry”, Alaska said.

”Alaska Airlines has defined a five-part journey to achieve net zero carbon emissions long-term, but we can’t get there alone,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska’s CEO. “New technologies are required to make that future possible, and we are thrilled to partner with industry leader ZeroAvia to make new zero emissions options a reality.”

Based in the UK and USA, ZeroAvia has already secured experimental certificates for its two-prototype aircraft from the CAA and FAA, and claims to be on track for commercial operations in 2024.

The company’s UK operations are supported by grants from UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, and ZeroAvia is part of the UK Government’s Jet Zero Council.

One its major investors is American Airlines, which recently signed, a memorandum of understanding providing American the opportunity to order up to 100 engines from ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric powertrain development programme.

The 76-seat Dash 8-400 is set to become the world’s largest zero-emissions aircraft, the companies said in a joint statement: “Aligning ZeroAvia’s powertrain with the Dash 8-400 airframe will represent a commercially viable zero-emission aircraft with fuel cell engine technology around five times more powerful than what has been demonstrated anywhere to date.” 

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