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New collaboration targets commercial hydrogen-electric flights by 2025

ZeroAvia, Shell, Rotterdam The Hague Airport and Rotterdam The Hague Innovation Airport have announce a collaboration to develop a concept of operations for hydrogen in airports, leading to demonstration flights to European destinations by the end of 2024 and gearing up for commercial passenger flights by 2025.

It was only in January that ZeroAvia, a leader in hydrogen-electric aviation, flew a 19-seat Dornier 228 over a field in Gloucestershire and made a little bit of history. The Dornier had been retrofitted with a full-size prototype hydrogen-electric powertrain and became the largest such plane ever to take to the skies.

This specific collaboration will focus on serving the first hydrogen flight from Rotterdam, including operation at the airport and developing infrastructure on the ground.

The project will also target the development of aviation-specific standards and protocols around safety, refueling and hydrogen management, enabling rollout of the fuel seamlessly. The parties will work together in discussions with potential airline operators for the initial demonstration and subsequent commercial flights.

For these demonstration flights, the parties aim to establish routes to airports in Europe within a 250 mile radius of Rotterdam.

Shell brings experiences of, and technical capabilities related to, hydrogen end-to-end supply chains as well as experience in the design and operation of refueling equipment. Shell collaborates with airports to develop fit-for-future infrastructure that will allow it to supply customers with sustainable aviation fuel, hydrogen and electric planes charging, so called “multi-modular” infrastructure.

Arnab Chatterjee, VP Infrastructure, ZeroAvia, said: ‘Having this consortium, including Rotterdam The Hague Innovation Airport and Shell, moves the ball a significant distance down the field towards our goal line of commercial operations. Some first passengers on zero-emission flights in the world could be flying from Rotterdam. There is still a lot of work to do, but with clear milestones and targets identified, the hard work really starts now towards delivering the infrastructure and exploring the protocols and standards required.’

Wilma van Dijk, CEO, Rotterdam The Hague Airport of Royal Schiphol Group, said: ‘Hydrogen is key to decarbonize aviation. This collaboration helps us demonstrate and validate new airport infrastructure requirements as well as concepts of operation and hence accelerate and stimulate airport transformation towards Zero-Emission.’

Georgie Hughes discusses the future of hydrogen-based aviation in the new issue of Air Quality News Magazine

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