Electric aircraft propulsion specialist ZeroAvia announces having raised $24.3 million (€20.5Mn) in a new round of funding for hydrogen plane development. The fresh capital comes from new investor British Airways as well as several existing financiers, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Shell.
ZeroAvia notes the new financing round was led by Horizon Ventures with Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, and SystemiQ also on board. This brings the company’s total private investment to over $53 million and the total funding raised since inception to nearly $74 million or over 62Mn euros.
ZeroAvia intends to use the funds to accelerate the development of larger hydrogen-electric engines for aircraft with more than 50 seats. This follows the announcement in December that the UK Government’s Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), and Innovate the UK, had awarded a £12.3m grant ($16.3m) to deliver a 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft to be market-ready by 2023. The company announced its $21.4 million Series A funding round simultaneously, alongside the opening of new offices in the UK.
The company believes it is realistic to have examples of H2 aircraft with more than 100 seats and over 1,600 kilometres of range by 2030.
Sean Doyle, British Airways’ CEO Sean Doyle was more conservative when stating BA’s belief that hydrogen had “the potential to enable us to reach true zero emissions on short-haul routes by 2050.”
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ZeroAvia expects to achieve commercialization for its hydrogen-electric powertrain as early as 2024 by initially targeting a 500-mile range in 10-20 seat aircraft used for commercial passenger transport, package delivery, agriculture, and beyond. A first H2 plane had completed its maiden flight in September 2020 as part of the HyFlyer project supported by the British government at Cranfield, located east of Milton Keynes.
Next-gen models will have up to 80 seats and 800 kilometres of range as early as three years after the 2023 interim stage. “Accelerated by this new capital infusion, ZeroAvia will also target entering the 50+ seat commercial aircraft segment by 2026,” the company states.
The company also builds expertise on the Boards with three new members. Christine Ourmières-Widener brings experience from her time as Vice-President and GM USA for Air France-KLM, CEO and board member of CityJet, Chief Global Sales Officer of American Express Global Business Travel and CEO of FlyBe. She previously served on the Board of Governors for the International Air Transport Association (IATA). On the Technical Advisory Board now sits Mike Friend, a retired Boeing Technology Director and consultant for Mitsubishi Aircraft to lend his aerospace knowledge to ZeroAvia’s powertrain development programs. There is also Mark Blair, a retired FedEx VP of Air Operations and a former Director of Fleet & Government Sales for Cessna. He will advise ZeroAvia on package delivery applications of various sizes of aircraft.