The world's first hydrogen-powered aircraft takes flight
The world's first commercial hydrogen-powered aircraft has taken to the skies over Bedfordshire, UK.
The only thing this six-seater Piper M plane emits is water vapor - and ZeroAvia, the company behind the technology, says its goal is to make hydrogen-powered aircraft commercially available in three years. .
"What we are doing is replacing fossil fuel engines with what are called hydrogen electric motors", Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO of ZeroAvia, told Sky News.
“We have also set up a fueling infrastructure that ensures emission-free hydrogen production. "
A prototype aircraft equipped with this type of engine has already been tested, but the company says it is the first time that a commercial aircraft has taken off using hydrogen.
ZeroAvia says the science is already there for a long, emissions-free flight by the end of the decade. But the existing airport infrastructure is designed to accommodate gas-hungry planes, and the wider introduction of hydrogen planes would imply a review of ground operations as well.
"It's not just about setting up hydrogen planes and making them work, we need the infrastructure on the ground to support everything"said David Gleave, an aviation safety investigator and researcher at Loughborough University.
"We have to find a way to refuel these planes because the existing infrastructure will not work and we have to determine other things like the fire and rescue requirements for the plane, so there is a lot much work to do, but it is certainly very exciting for the future. "
The UK government is supporting the project as part of its Jet Zero Council initiative, which aims to make zero-emission flights possible in the future.
Ministers hope the project will bring economic benefits to Britain, even as the world faces a pandemic that has affected the airline industry.
“There is also an opportunity, as we rebuild, to make sure that we have environmental credentials at the heart of it all. This is cutting-edge technology which provides an economic opportunity for Great Britain while meeting the global challenge of climate change ”Aviation Minister Robert Courts told Sky News.
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