Hydrogen-powered commercial plane completes first test flight

The company ZeroAvia is creating hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft in the U.K.

ZeroAvia boasts its newest product as the first practical, zero-emission airplane of its kind. Although the planes can only fly short distances with just a few passengers, its engineers believe they’ll be able to develop long-haul flights by 2030. 

Because the planes use hydrogen — rather than jet fuel like other commercial aircraft — its only emission is water vapor. That means it is much better for the environment. 

According to Biological Diversity, if left unregulated, global aviation will produce 43 metric gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050. Meanwhile, in the U.S., aircraft are one of the fast-growing causes of emissions. 

“We also a fueling infrastructure set up that ensures zero-emission production of hydrogen itself. It’s clean, it’s less noisy and they will be able to fly without feeling guilty for flying,” CEO Val Miftakhov told the Associated Press. 

However, one of the hiccups the company has run into is that the current refueling infrastructure is made for jets. 

“We have to work out how to refuel these aeroplanes because the existing infrastructure won’t work,” aviation safety investigator David Gleave told the Associated Press. “We have to work out other things such as the fire and rescue requirements for the aeroplanes. So, there’s quite a lot of work to do, but certainly, it’s very exciting.” 

The U.K. seems to also be thrilled with the idea as it is partially funding the project in hopes of bringing jobs. 

“This is world-beating technology, which has an economic opportunity for Britain as well as answering the global climate change challenge,” said U.K. aviation minister Robert Courts. 

The hydrogen-powered plane has completed a 20-minute test flight and is set to complete a longer trip before the end of the year.

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