It's lift-off for Dale Vince's guilt-free flight plan
By Simon Hacker | 28th November 2023
Today marks a historical moment for Gloucestershire business as Kemble-based ZeroAvia sign a deal with Ecojet , the green-flight brainchild of Stroud-based Ecotricity Founder Dale Vince.
Under the plan, Mr Vince's newly launched airline will be powered by ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric propulsion technology, pioneered in the Cotswolds. Up to 70 hydrogen-electric, zero-emission engines will be fitted to Ecojet's fleet, once the kit has been type-certified by the industry.
With a stated aim of becoming the flag carrier for green Britain, the deal will become operational across Ecojet's fleet in 2025, while conventionally powered aircraft will operate from next year on routes to and from Edinburgh.
Ecojet hopes that this achievement will deliver the green crown as the world's first electric airline and says it will work with Monte, ZeroAvia's preferred ZA600 lessor partner, in bringing this groundbreaking technology to market.
Dale Vince, Ecojet Founder, said: "We don't have to give up flying to live a green lifestyle or to get to net zero as a country - and this is big news. The technology is here now and the planes are coming very soon - carbon-free, guilt-free flying is just around the corner. And although aviation is responsible for only a small part of all global emissions, it occupies a far bigger space than that in our psyche."
He added that the "hearts and minds value" of this new opportunity outweighs the carbon issue significantly.
"It shows that everything we need to do, can be done, with a low to zero carbon footprint. And that is big news and a big encouragement to us all."
Val Miftakhov, Founder and CEO, ZeroAvia, added: "Clean aviation will mean increased regional air travel and new routes, Ecojet can capitalize based on their clear focus on low-emission travel. The UK Government's Jet Zero Strategy has set a great example for the world to follow, but the UK can go much further by being early to act and introducing some of the first zero-emission routes in the world."
Ecojet has also placed a larger order for the more powerful ZA2000 engine, designed for up to 80 seat regional turboprops and with an entry-in-service target of 2027. This will open up the potential to fly aircraft such as the ATR72 and Dash 8 400, already popular on regional routes across the world.
ZeroAvia, Ecojet and MONTE will work together with airports and other industry partners, to identify and finance the first pathways to hydrogen-electric commercial operations. ZeroAvia analysis shows that, if powered by UK wind generated green hydrogen, domestic flights would have lower lifecycle carbon emissions per passenger than any other common mode of transport today, including fully occupied cars, domestic rail and coach travel.
In June, ZeroAvia announced that it had signed a definitive purchase agreement with lessor MONTE for 100 engines. MONTE will provide financing for Ecojet's powertrain purchase, installation and operation, meaning that Ecojet will become the lessors first confirmed customer, and recipient of their currently reserved production slots with ZeroAvia.
Rishi Majithia, Head of Investment, MONTE, said: "Since signing our definitive purchase agreement with ZeroAvia, we have been working closely with ZeroAvia and our global network of aircraft operators to reach tri-party agreements on the use of the ZA600 powertrain. Ecojet's commitment to using the ZA600 whilst being financed by MONTE is one of the first of these partnerships and we are excited to be working with an operator that is aligned with our goals of decarbonizing regional aviation."
ZeroAvia recently completed a program of 10 test flights of a prototype of its ZA600 for the Dornier 228 aircraft at its UK base in Kemble, Gloucestershire. In May, the company unveiled its testbed aircraft for testing the ZA2000 engine, a Dash 8 400 76-seat plane provided by Alaska Airlines, as well as announcing rapid progress in developing the core technologies for flying these larger aircraft.
● Hydrogen-electric engines use hydrogen in fuel cells to generate electricity, which is then used to power electric motors to turn the aircraft's propellers. The only emission is water.
Punchline-Gloucester.com says: It's a green-letter day for sustainable business in our county, with this new deal now being cleared for take-off. Great ideas fuel our economic future and thanks to ZeroAvia and Ecotricity, Gloucestershire is staying ahead of the flight pack and showing it's a prime place for investment and industry. How long before Mr Vince's club, Forest Green Rovers, becomes the first football team in the world to attend an away fixture by CO2-free flight?
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