Otto Aviation to use fuel cell system from ZeroAvia

ZeroAvia, a company specialising in electric aircraft propulsion, is cooperating with Otto Aviation to develop a fuel cell propulsion system for a long-range Otto aircraft. Specifically, the ZA600 hydrogen-electric powertrain will be adapted for the Celera aircraft.

ZeroAvia has been developing the ZA600 since last summer. The 600 kW propulsion system is intended for the conversion of aircraft with ten to 20 seats – a Dornier 228, for example, serves as the test carrier, but the propulsion system is also to be compatible with the Cessna Caravan or DHC-6 Twin Otter, for example.

With up to 19 passengers, the Celera from Otto Aviation also falls into this size category. The big difference: it is not a conventional aircraft like the Dornier or Cessna mentioned above, but a futuristic aircraft with a new fuselage and wing design. This is designed to significantly reduce air resistance, which should consequently lower operating costs.

With the ZeroAvia engine, the Celera should be able to reach a range of 1,000 nautical miles (about 1,850 kilometres). The propeller is not placed on the nose or the wings, but in the rear of the fuselage.

When the first Celera with fuel cell propulsion will take off is not mentioned in the press release. But it is likely to take a few more years: ZeroAvia is planning the maiden flight of its 19-seat Dornier 228 in the coming weeks, having already put smaller six-seat prototypes into the air in 2020.

“The majority of our commercial deals to date have focused on retrofit and line-fit for existing airframes, which is essential to deliver zero-emission flight to market as quickly as possible,” says Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO of ZeroAvia. “However, efficiency gains from new airframe design can expand the impact of zero-emission aviation. We are pleased to collaborate with innovators, like Otto Aviation, bringing cutting-edge clean sheet designs to market as we can optimize the hydrogen-electric propulsion system for those designs.”

Just last week, ZeroAvia entered into an agreement with Monte Aircraft Leasing. Monte will purchase up to 100 ZA600s to retrofit existing aircraft.

With reporting by Sebastian Schaal, Germany.


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