Alaska Air Group and ZeroAvia Collaborate to Develop Hydrogen Powertrain
The ZeroAvia 76-seat aircraft will be the first of its kind to have a hydrogen powertrain. The powertrain was designed by Alaska Air Group and ZeroAvia. This, in collaboration with Pratt & Whitney Canada, GE Aviation, Toyota Motor Corporation, Honda Aircraft Company Ltd., Kawasaki Heavy Industries Aerospace Company, Inc., Rolls-Royce North America LLC. ZeroAvia has announced that it is expected that this plane will fly for up to 4 hours on one tank of fuel.
This cutting-edge design has been tested twice before but never flown commercially because it had a too low capacity for passengers. Now, with the advances in hydrogen fuel cell technology and battery advancements, it is now possible to increase capacity for passengers and fly commercially. The new 76-seat plane from ZeroAvia will be smaller than a Boeing 737 but larger than a Q400 which seats 50 people. With almost double the passengers of a Q400, more efficient batteries and lighter seats it is expected the plane will only take 2 hours to refuel.
The entire project is estimated to cost $2 billion. The design phase of the plane will start in 2018 and it is expected that a prototype could be flying commercially by 2023. As this becomes a reality, ZeroAvia will begin designing a larger hydrogen aircraft that will seat up to 184 people. This larger plane would rival an Airbus A320. ZeroAvia is planning to have a hydrogen fuel system operational in the United States by 2020. Since its inception, ZeroAvia has been a part of Horizon Air’s growth and expansion as an airline.Along with this investment came innovation and evolution.
By 2025, Alaska Airlines will have saved more than $100 million from the integration of ZeroAvia. ZeroAvia will have the ability to fly up to speeds of 300 KM/H, cut fuel consumption by over 50%, and lower maintenance costs due to fewer moving parts. Additionally, this plane will be quieter than any other plane on the market – producing half the noise of a Boeing 737. The hydrogen fuel cell system used on the aircraft was developed by GE Aviation. The first flight tests were completed in November 2013 at McClellan Airfield. A second test flight took place in March 2015 at Victorville, California, fueling with hydrogen from delivery trucks.