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Hydrogen-electric plane company ZeroAvia has signed a partnership with ASL Aviation Holdings to develop hydrogen-electric engine conversions.

ASL Airlines Ireland will provide a retired ATR72F aircraft for the program initially, while the scope of the project could ultimately see ZeroAvia order 10 such conversions.

While the first plane will be a demonstrator, ASL is looking to convert a number of the aircraft it already uses for its freight operations and could be providing zero-emissions flights from 2026 onwards.

“This deal with ZeroAvia’s further strengthens ASL’s commitment to being a first-mover in the introduction of new emissions reduction technology in our current fleet,” says Dave Andrew, CEO of ASL Aviation Holdings.

“ZeroAvia will support us in the provision of cargo services and vital connectivity in an environmentally sustainable way without having to wait for the introduction of new aircraft types. It’s critical for ASL that we take immediate steps to reduce our carbon footprint and ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric powertrain will allow us to operate cost-effective regional freight services using existing aircraft that are now powered by traditional turbines. ZeroAvia’s early flight test successes are promising, and we are also excited by the extensive R&D they have put into the green hydrogen production and the refuelling ecosystem needed to support air operations.”

The two companies will also collaborate on the development of ZeroAvia’s ZA2000 powertrain that replaces a traditional jet engine with a 2-5 MW powertrain. The ATR variant to be retrofitted to the ATR72 aircraft will use a hydrogen fuel cell and electric motor powertrain.

“ASL has identified zero-emissions technology as an enormous priority and, happily, is pursuing the opportunity with energy,” says Val Miftakhoc, CEO and founder of ZeroAvia.

“Given our success in demonstrating the technology in-flight testing, the advanced nature of the R&D for our first certifiable configuration, and the technological progress we are making, we are confident that this partnership will lead to some of the earliest commercial freight operations using hydrogen-electric propulsion.”

ZeroAvia is also currently working on developing its hydrogen refuelling system and was recently awarded a grant from the UK Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure program in order to explore liquid hydrogen refuelling in airports.

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