ZEROAVIA , the clean energy aircraft company, has conducted the “first electric-powered flight of a commercial-scale” aircraft carried out in the UK.

The test flight is said to be a significant milestone both for the net zero and green aviation ambitions, and for California-based ZeroAvia on its journey to demonstrating long-distance zero-emission flights in large aircraft.

It comes ahead of the main test flight which is a 250-300 nautical mile flight from the Orkney Islands.

The company successfully completed the first flight of the new version of its “powertrain” from its base at Cranfield Airport, Bedfordshire.

ZeroAvia is focused on developing hydrogen fuel cells.

READ MORE: World’s largest zero emission hydrogen flight test in Scotland

It says hydrogen-electric offers the same zero-emission potential of battery-electric, but has a much more promising energy-to-weight ratio, making it viable for commercial operations at a much larger scale and in a shorter time frame.

A hydrogen refuelling infrastructure has recently been commissioned, and ZeroAvia has completed a full set of ground-based full-power flight simulations for its long-distance hydrogen flights.

Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia founder and chief executive, said the flight is “the latest in a series of milestones that moves the possibility of zero emission flight closer to reality”.

“We all want the aviation industry to come back after the pandemic on a firm footing to be able to move to a net zero future, with a green recovery. That will not be possible without realistic, commercial options for zero emission flight, something we will bring to market as early as 2023.”

Project HyFlyer will culminate in the 250-300 nautical mile flight from the Orkney Islands to mainland Scotland. It is a key step on ZeroAvia’s journey towards supplying to commercial operators and aircraft manufacturers in 2023, initially targeting up to 500-mile regional flights in 10 to 20-seat fixed-wing aircraft.

The European Marine Energy Centre is supporting the infrastructure in Orkney.