UK-US zero-emission aviation powertrain startup ZeroAvia Inc. has announced that it has reached a four-party agreement to develop commercial routes using its hydrogen-electric powertrain systems on routes from Skellefteå Airport (SFT) in Northeast Sweden.
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As part of the agreement, ZeroAvia will work with the airport, the municipal energy company Skellefteå Kraft AB and Braathens Regional Airlines (BRA) to demonstrate flights and explore launching commercial operations.
Sweden is one of the most ambitious countries in the world in pursuit of net zero targets for aviation, with an overall fossil fuel-free aspiration by 2045, and planning for all domestic flights to be fossil free by 2030. Aviation will become a larger proportion of emissions as other sectors abate, so the country will need to see true zero-emission air travel that goes beyond combustion fuels. Bold projects such as the one planned for Skellefteå are crucial in this endeavour, said James Peck, Chief Customer Officer, ZeroAvia.
Braathens Regional Airlines, one of the largest domestic operators in Sweden, plans to provide aircraft for future demonstrations and to explore commercial routes.
The partners will examine the potential for operating a range of regional aircraft on commercial passenger routes using both ZeroAvia’s ZA600 powertrain, designed for 9-19 seat aircraft with a 2025 launch target, and its ZA2000, designed for 40-80 seat aircraft (such as ATR and Dash 8 families), with a plan for entry into service by 2027.
Braathens Regional Airlines currently operates 14 ATR-72 aircraft on routes across Sweden, Finland, and Denmark and will in the coming months start-up charter flights operating 8 Airbus 319/320.
To achieve our airline’s ambitious goal to reach net zero for our international flights by 2045, we need to speed up the development of technology. We see hydrogen-powered aircraft as one important solution for international flights in Europe. It’s also important for us to contribute to initiatives started here in the Nordics, said Ulrika Matsgård, CEO of Braathens Regional Airlines.
Skellefteå Airport is one of the ten largest airports in Sweden in terms of domestic flight operations.
In conjunction with the partners, the airport will investigate the operational infrastructure required to support the hydrogen-powered flights and opportunities for further decarbonization presented by green hydrogen.
We see an increasing travel demand in the northern part of all Nordic countries. If we manage to test, develop and commercialize hydrogen aviation solutions in Skellefteå, we can help to increase regional connectivity in a truly sustainable way, said Robert Lindberg, CEO of Skellefteå Airport.
Skellefteå Kraft has deep experience in renewable generation in the region with hydroelectric power stations in operation and the Blaiken onshore wind farm as part of its portfolio.
Skellefteå Kraft wants to contribute to the energy transition for sustainable aviation. We are still in a very early stage regarding hydrogen but think that renewable hydrogen is a possibility and a part of the solution to energy and climate change challenges, said Joachim Nordin, CEO at Skellefteå Kraft.
The promise of hydrogen-electric propulsion
The energy company will analyze the potential for hydrogen production and supply as part of the project with ZeroAvia.
Hydrogen-electric propulsion promises lower operating costs and zero-emission flights for airlines, as well as reduced air and noise pollution around airport locations.
These benefits can in turn mean greater use of regional air travel, increasing productivity and connectivity and providing a boost for regional economies.
By reviewing the conditions together with ZeroAvia, Skellefteå Airport, and Braathens Regional Airlines, we will more quickly increase understanding and our readiness to support future hydrogen-powered aircraft, said Ann-Christine Schmidt, Head of R&D and Hydrogen, at Skellefteå Kraft.
The project in Sweden is further traction for ZeroAvia’s plans to introduce its zero-emission propulsion technology on regional routes over the next few years, with partnerships with Rotterdam the Hague Airport (RTM) in the Netherlands, and Edmonton International Airport (YEG) in Canada.
The company has also secured in excess of 1 500 provisional orders for its hydrogen-electric powertrains over the course of the last 18 months, including deals with American Airlines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Red Sea Development Company, Ravn Alaska, MONTE, Rose Cay, ASL Ireland and a number of other operators and lessors.