Scotland-based scientists are among the team celebrating the successful test flight of what is claimed to be "the largest aircraft in the world to be powered by a hydrogen-electric engine".

The Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre, Aeristech and ZeroAvia’s joint HyFlyer II programme has reached a milestone with the maiden flight of its 19-seat Dornier 228 testbed aircraft, retrofitted with a full-size prototype hydrogen-electric powertrain on the left wing of the aircraft.

The flight took place from the research and development facility at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire, and lasted 10 minutes, on Thursday.

ZeroAvia will now work towards its certifiable configuration to deliver commercial routes using the technology by 2025.

The Dornier 228 will conduct a series of test flights from Kemble and later demonstration flights from other airports. Almost exactly two years ago, ZeroAvia conducted the first of more than 30 flights of a six-seat Piper Malibu aircraft using a 250kW hydrogen-electric powertrain.

The hydrogen-electric powertrain on board was fuelled using compressed gaseous hydrogen produced with an on-site electrolyser.

To enable hydrogen production on site, ZeroAvia and EMEC delivered and operated the Hydrogen Airport Refuelling Ecosystem, described as “a microcosm of what infrastructure will look like in terms of green hydrogen production, storage, refuelling and fuel cell powered flight".

The system’s electrolyser capacity was doubled earlier this year from its initial design for the latest project.

Val Miftakhov, founder and chief executive of California-based ZeroAvia said: “This is a major moment, not just for ZeroAvia, but for the aviation industry as a whole, as it shows that true zero-emission commercial flight is only a few years away.

“The first flight of our 19-seat aircraft shows just how scalable our technology is and highlights the rapid progress of zero-emission propulsion.

"This is only the beginning - we are building the future of sustainable, zero climate impact aviation.

“Our approach is the best solution to accelerate clean aviation at scale.

“Congratulations to everyone on our team and all of our partners and stakeholders for the collective effort that brought us to this monumental day in history.” 

Scottish airline Loganair is among those seeking to develop hydrogen-powered aircraft.  

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The funds will be invested in Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides after an agreement was signed by UK and Scottish government ministers and council leaders.

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