United Airlines among newest investors of ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-propelled flight technology

ZeroAvia announced it has raised another $35 million to help develop its 2-5 megawatt (MW) zero-emission powertrain systems for commercial aviation.

United Airlines joins an already crowded field of investors, which include Alaska Air Group, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, AP Ventures, Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Summa Equity, and Shell Ventures.

ZeroAvia says it is on track to achieve commercialization for its hydrogen propulsion technology in 2024. With the new investment, the company has raised $115 million.

Initially, ZeroAvia targets the technology to be used in smaller planes for commercial passenger transport, package delivery, agriculture, and beyond. But this funding round is centered around the idea of the hydrogen-centric technology in turboprops by 2026 and regional jets by 2028, the company says.

With its investment United says it is the largest airline to invest in zero-emission, hydrogen-electric engines for regional aircraft. The Airline has set a goal of reducing its GHG emissions 100% by 2050, without relying on traditional carbon offsets.

United expects to buy up to 100 of ZeroAvia’s new zero-emission, 100% hydrogen-electric engines, saying they could be retrofitted to existing United Express planes as early as 2028. United says one potential use of the technology is on its unique CRJ-550, the only 50-seat aircraft which offers first class and other premium amenities.

“Hydrogen-electric engines are one of the most promising paths to zero-emission air travel for smaller aircraft, and this investment will keep United out in front on this important emerging technology,” said Scott Kirby, CEO of United. “United continues to look for opportunities to not only advance our own sustainability initiatives, but also identify and help technologies and solutions that the entire industry can adopt.”

ZeroAvia has been a leading company focused on hydrogen-electric aviation solutions, finishing the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered flight of a commercial aircraft in September 2020.

“We are very excited to welcome our new investors, including one of the world’s largest airlines in United, into the ZeroAvia family,” said ZeroAvia CEO Val Miftakhov. “As we prepare for ground and flight testing of our first commercial intent product in the coming weeks, this backing by our investors will enable us to accelerate delivery of our engine for larger aircraft. We are tremendously grateful to all our investors who are helping us achieve our mission – a world where every aircraft is powered by hydrogen-electric engines, delivering a true zero-emission future for flying.”