The world’s first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft has taken to the skies — a move considered as a major breakthrough for the global aviation industry.
According to Sky News, the water vapour-emitting flight took place on Thursday, taking off from an airfield in Bedfordshire, England.
ZeroAvia, the company that inspired the project, said it is committed to making hydrogen planes available commercially in three years.
Val Miftakhov, the company’s founder and chief executive, said the project would replace the extant fossil fuel engines when fully actualised.
“What we’re doing is replacing fossil fuel engines with what’s called hydrogen electric engines,” he said.
“We also have a fuelling infrastructure set up that ensures zero emission production of hydrogen itself.”
The company explained that while a prototype plane with such engine had previously taken to the sky, this makes it the first time that a commercial aircraft would be flown using hydrogen power.
Commenting on the initiative, David Gleave, aviation safety investigator and researcher at Loughborough University, said the right infrastructure is needed to facilitate the success of the commercial hydrogen-powered aircrafts.
“It’s not just a question of putting hydrogen-based aeroplanes and getting them to work, we need the infrastructure on the ground to support everything,” Gleave said.
“We have to work out how to refuel these aeroplanes because existing infrastructure won’t work and we have to work out other things such as the fire and rescue requirements for the aeroplane, so there’s quite a lot of work to do but certainly it’s very exciting going forward.”
The project is said to have received the backing of the UK government, which resonates with its jet zero council initiative aimed at making net-zero emissions flights possible in the future.
The company is said to have commenced work into the possibility of having a 250-mile flight out of an airfield in Orkney following the success of Thursday’s 20-minute experiment.
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