Birmingham Airport pushes for hydrogen first

In a further potential boost for hydrogen transport, ZeroAvia and Birmingham Airport (BHX) have entered into a long-term partnership which could see the UK’s first commercial hydrogen-powered aircraft.

Under the partnership, the pair will develop an on-airfield hydrogen refuelling station as part of a push to see regular domestic passenger flights of zero-emission aircraft.

ZeroAvia – which recently completed its first test flight – is working on bringing to market a zero-emission system capable of flying 20-seat aircraft 300 nautical miles by 2025.

It is hoped this will open up the possibility of ‘green air travel’ from Birmingham to destinations such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Belfast, Isle of Man and Dublin by 2025. 

Both parties want to make hydrogen-powered travel to Mediterranean holiday destinations a reality and ZeroAvia aims to operate an emissions-free 80-seat aircraft up to 1,000 nautical miles by 2027.

Arnab Chatterjee, vice president, Infrastructure at Zero Avia, said: “Birmingham Airport can be a central hub in a green flight network in the UK, given that any domestic mainland destination will be reachable from the airport using our first systems in 2025.”

Simon Richards, CFO and sustainability officer at BHX, added: “We could, quite conceivably, see the first hydrogen-powered domestic passenger flight taking off from BHX in the UK in the next few years.”

Hydrogen electric engines use hydrogen in fuel cells to generate electricity, which is then used to power electric motors to turn the aircraft’s propellers, only emitting water.

Last month, ZeroAvia recorded its first flight to be powered by a hydrogen-electric engine, taking place at the company’s R&D facility at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire, UK, and lasted six minutes.

Between 10 and 20 flights are expected as part of the test campaign, ahead of planned certification towards the end of the year. 

BHX plans to use an area on its airfield for hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, testing and operations.

The partnership sits alongside the airport’s own journey to become a Net Zero airport by 2033, as outlined in its 2022 carbon roadmap. 

ZeroAvia – which recently completed its first test flight – is working on bringing to market a zero-emission system capable of flying 20-seat aircraft 300 nautical miles by 2025.

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