ZeroAvia Cessna Grand Caravan airplane with hydrogen tanks on the wings
ZeroAvia and Textron Aviation announce agreement to develop hydrogen-electric powertrains for the Cessna Grand Caravan (PRNewsfoto/ZeroAvia)

The next step forward

Now that ZeroAvia and Textron have entered into this agreement, ZeroAvia will have access to Textron’s engineering, data, and resources to retrofit the Cessna Grand Caravan (208B) aircraft to be powered by its ZA600 powertrain. They will be aiming to provide for both commercial passenger and cargo operators. By 2025, ZeroAvia seeks to obtain the necessary certification for its 600 kW powertrain.

This development agreement between ZeroAvia and Textron is the most recent in a long list of other commitments made between ZeroAvia and many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and operators over the course of the last few months. These commitments to ZeroAvia represent the traction that ZeroAvia and its hydrogen-electric powertrain technology are gaining.

On Wednesday, September 28, ZeroAvia announced that it had joined the European Union’s Alliance for Zero-Emission Aviation, a voluntary coalition of both public and private organizations with the shared goal of making the necessary preparations for the adoption of hydrogen-powered and electric aircraft in commercial aviation.

The ideal candidate

The Cessna Grand Caravan serves as the most suitable choice to convert to a hydrogen-electric powertrain because of its high wing placement. ZeroAvia will be able to attach its hydrogen tanks underneath the wings of the Cessna Grand Caravan, which will prevent operators from needing to sacrifice passenger or cargo space inside the cabin.

Cessna Grand Caravan on a runway
Cessna Grand Caravan on a runway | Photographer: Darian Froese

In addition to the Cessna Grand Caravan, ZeroAvia has been successful at adapting its hydrogen-electric technology onto other aircraft models such as a 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft. Successful retrofitting has been accomplished at their R&D location in Cotswold, UK, and it’s anticipated that they will be running test flights within the next few weeks.

According to an article from Cision PRNewswire, “The company is actively developing the market for its ZA600 product with different 9-19 seat airframes, while concurrently developing its ZA2000, 2-5MW engine class for 40-80 seat aircraft with an entry-into-service target of 2027.”

Since it hit the market in 1982, over 2,400 models of the Cessna Grand Caravan have been delivered across the globe. It has been utilized by many organizations like FedEx feeder and a few states like Brazil and Colombia. Given its widespread presence as a versatile aircraft and conducive design, the Grand Caravan stands to become the vanguard for zero-emission air travel in the coming years.

Vnukovo International Airport
Vnukovo International Airport | Photographer: Unknown

The CEO of ZeroAvia, Val Miftakhov had this to say about the potential of this aircraft and their agreement with Textron; “The famous Cessna Grand Caravan is on track to be one of the first airframes operating commercial services – both cargo and passenger – with hydrogen-electric, zero-emission engines. We applaud the visionary leadership of Textron Aviation in joining us to help transform a much-loved mainstay of sub-regional aviation into a symbol of sustainable transformation in aviation.”

The goal of ZeroAvia is to revolutionize the commercial aviation industry by being the first manufacturer to provide hydrogen-electric powertrains for all aircraft. Their vision is to contribute to the creation of a sustainable, zero-emission aviation industry powered by renewable hydrogen. ZeroAvia has future plans to develop their powertrains for larger aircraft capable of seating 9-19 passengers by 2025 and eventually 200+ passenger aircraft by 2040.

Aircraft cabin
Regional aircraft cabin | Photographer: Borja García de Sola

Given this and the other agreements that they have made with manufacturers and operators, ZeroAvia is gaining ground on the path to air travel being 100% green and powered by renewable resources. ZeroAvia, Textron Aviation, and many other organizations and aircraft companies are working together to change the aviation world for the better. Their commitment and the work of ZeroAvia and their pioneering of the hydrogen-electric powertrain will help the aviation industry to become more sustainable and mitigate the effects of traditional jet engines on climate change.

With this news and other developments in green travel and sustainability, what are your thoughts on the future of zero-emission travel? Share your thoughts below!

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