This latest funding follows the announcement in December that the UK Government – through the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), and Innovate UK – had awarded a £12.3m grant ($16.3m) to deliver a breakthrough 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft that is market-ready by 2023. The company announced its $21.4 million Series A funding round at the same time, accelerating its 600kW development program scheduled for commercial entry in 2024.
"This new funding, in conjunction with our other recent milestones, will significantly accelerate our path to zero-emission solutions for larger regional aircraft at a commercial scale," said Val Miftakhov, CEO and founder of ZeroAvia. "With many airlines lining up and ready to make the shift to zero-emissions, we expect to see wide-scale adoption of this technology. We are extremely grateful for our investors who are helping to speed up our progress and ultimately the aviation industry's adoption of zero-emission flight."
ZeroAvia expects to achieve commercialization for its hydrogen-electric powertrain as early as 2024. Its hydrogen aviation solutions will address various markets by initially targeting a 500-mile range in 10-20 seat aircraft used for commercial passenger transport, package delivery, agriculture, and beyond. Accelerated by this new capital infusion, ZeroAvia will also target entering the 50+ seat commercial aircraft segment by 2026.
"'Flying on jet fuel comes with an environmental cost, and finding an alternative for the aviation industry is vital. We believe ZeroAvia offers a real and practical solution for the aviation market to move towards cleaner options." says Patrick Poon from Horizons Ventures.
The round will also further derisk the company vision of powering a 100-seat single-aisle aircraft by 2030. ZeroAvia's achievements to date are the first steps in realizing the near-term transition from fossil fuels to zero-emission hydrogen as the primary source for commercial aviation.
"Innovative zero-emissions technology is advancing fast, and we support the development of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source because we believe it has the potential to enable us to reach true zero emissions on short-haul routes by 2050," Sean Doyle, British Airways' CEO, said. "There is a huge amount of energy and excitement building around the possibilities of a zero-emissions future for aviation, and while there is no single solution to this challenge, we acknowledge the need for urgent action to tackle the impact flying currently has on our planet and are making progress on our journey to net zero."
As the company continues to scale its global operations, ZeroAvia also brings three new members to the senior team.
Christine Ourmières-Widener joins ZeroAvia's Board of Directors and brings executive experience cultivated from her time spent in top leadership at airline and travel corporations, including 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) and was a Non-Executive Director for the airline retailer Datalex.
Mike Friend, a retired Boeing Senior Technology Director and consultant for Mitsubishi Aircraft, joins the Technical Advisory Board to lend his extensive aerospace technology knowledge to the powertrain development programs. In the early 2000s, he led a historic Boeing Phantom Works project in Spain, resulting in the world's first manned hydrogen-electric airplane flight. Following that, he was a chief engineer in the New Airplane Product Development team at Boeing Commercial Aircraft, playing critical roles in developing multiple vehicle concepts, including Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Mark Blair, a retired FedEx VP of Air Operations and a former Director of Fleet & Government Sales for Cessna Aircraft Company joins ZeroAvia Advisory Board to lend his extensive knowledge in package delivery applications of various sizes of aircraft. Mark is also engaged with a number of cargo and passenger operators in advisory capacities and will bring this diverse operator perspective to ZeroAvia.
ZeroAvia offers hydrogen-fueled powertrain technology to replace conventional engines in commercial aircraft. Adoption of this technology results not only in true zero-emission flight but also in lower fuel and maintenance costs. The company previously completed its first electric flight in the US in 2019, then built the second flying prototype in the UK, and conducted its first electric flight in June of 2020. In September 2020, it achieved the world's first hydrogen-electric flight of a commercial-grade aircraft. Additionally, the company just completed a ground simulation of the complete power profile for its upcoming first cross-country flight. The ground test demonstrated a full battery shutdown in-flight using the company's unique fuel cell powertrain configuration, allowing for complete removal of the battery system in the next configuration of the powertrain.