ZeroAvia: Investors zoom in on hydrogen-electric jets

ZeroAvia has announced another $30 million in funding at the Farnborough International Airshow with new investors Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital, NEOM, and AENU coming on board. The capital increase brings the Series B round to $68 million (€66.7Mn).

++ This article has been updated; please continue reading below. ++

Existing investor International Airlines Group (IAG) also increased its investment following an initial commitment from the Group last year which also included United and Alaska Airlines as the three airlines invested in ZeroAvia. Other early investors include Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, AP Ventures, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Summa Equity and Shell Ventures.

ZeroAvia proposes a two to five megawatt hydrogen electric powertrain to power 40-80 seat aircraft by 2026. Larger aircraft will use liquid hydrogen fuel instead of gaseous for smaller aircraft, allowing a higher energy density and increased range and payload so the company.

Long-term investor IAG began partnering with ZeroAvia in 2020. The Group comprises Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, LEVEL and Vueling. Luis Gallego, IAG’s chief executive, said that among a range of solutions, hydrogen “has huge potential, especially for short-haul routes.”

This latest round of funding will help ZeroAvia deploy building infrastructure at airport sites, supporting live demonstrations of its Hydrogen Airport Refueling Ecosystem (HARE) in preparation for routes carrying passengers and cargo in the following years.

This is where NEOM comes in. The new investor claims to produce green hydrogen at scale and recently launched a Hydrogen Innovation and Development Center. In addition to the investment, ZeroAvia and NEOM will partner to bring fuel cell-powered aircraft of all sizes to regional flights.

John Selden, CEO of NEOM Airports, gave the example of flying from the company’s Bay Airport in Saudi Arabia to Cairo in Egypt (4,716 km). “It will be well within the range of a 20-seat turboprop aircraft powered by ZeroAvia’s hydrogen fuel cell engine by the end of the decade,” he said.

The funding announcement comes amid ground testing of ZeroAvia’s ZA600 powertrain at its R&D facility at Cotswold Airport, UK, as part of Project HyFlyer II, which aims to demonstrate hydrogen-electric flight in a Dornier 228 aircraft. ZeroAvia also recently welcomed a second testbed to its US facility at Hollister, CA.

Update 04 August 2022

American Airlines has joined the growing circle of investors in ZeroAvia. The US company is the third airline to put money behind Zero’s hydrogen-electric powertrains. American’s investment raises ZeroAvia’s latest B-series funding round to $150 million, up from $68m.

A memorandum of understanding provides American the option to order up to 100 engines from ZeroAvia. The engines are intended to power regional jet aircraft with zero emissions.

ZeroAvia reportedly targets a 300-mile range in 9-19 seat aircraft by 2024 and up to a 700-mile range in 40-80 seat aircraft by 2026., (update Aug ’22)


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