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ZeroAvia takes off with Japan Airlines

A new step forward towards the global implementation of zero-emissions flight technology has been taken with news of Kemble-based ZeroAvia shaking hands on a major project in Japan.

Japan Airlines and ZeroAvia have now signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on exploring hydrogen-electric flights, agreeing on a team project to estabish regional routes and defining future operational requirements in the far-east economic powerhouse.

The MOU, between Japan Airlines Co Ltd and JAL Engineering Co Ltd, will "explore development of hydrogen-electric engines to enable clean flight operations on regional routes," a spokesman said.

James Peck, Chief Customer Officer at ZeroAvia added: "Japan plans massive investment in hydrogen supply and also in supporting the development of hydrogen aviation, so there is clear opportunity for exploring early adoption. JAL group already operates 50 regional aircraft which will be relevant to hydrogen-electric propulsion technology in the foreseeable future."

ZeroAvia is currently advancing the technology for its second engine platform, ZA2000 - a 2-5.4 MW hydrogen-electric propulsion system for 40-90 seat regional turboprops with 2027 planned for entry in service. Across its group of companies, JAL operates more than 50 regional class aircraft.

As part of the agreement, Japan Airlines and ZeroAvia will collaborate on assessing operational parameters for retrofit hydrogen-electric aircraft for existing and prospective routes, as well as collaborating to define pathways for regulation, retrofit operations, hydrogen fuel infrastructure and engine maintenance, repair and overhaul.

Ryo Tamura, President, JAL Engineering Co Ltd said: "Hydrogen could solve a number of key challenges including CO2 and non-CO2 emissions from aviation propulsion. It is important that we explore the potential benefits and challenges for hydrogen aviation with the leaders in the sector as a matter of urgency. Our collaboration will lead and contribute to safe and sustainable aviation in Japan."

● In other news from the aviation tech disruptor, Time magazine has recognized ZeroAvia's CEO and founder, Val Miftakhov, as one of the world's most influential leaders in climate action in business.

In its 2023 #TIME100Climate list, the magazine acknowledged Mr Miftakhov's  leadership for the company in its work on continuous advancement of zero-emission and hydrogen-electric aviation. 

ZeroAvia said: "The more that Time magazine and other high profile media celebrate this innovation, the greater public recognition will be and the appetite to adopt cleaner flight technologies will only grow."

In an interview with Time, Mr Miftakhov said: "more attention is needed to stave off the over-reliance on piecemeal solutions or regressive policies that restrict flight only to the wealthy. More money is needed to scale up hydrogen production for aviation and to develop the airport infrastructure to facilitate the switch to truly clean aviation".

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