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Green Hydrogen Planes Are Taking Off

Zero-emission airlines are no longer something for us all to wish for. Genuine progress towards decarbonizing the global airline industry is being made.


Connect Airlines' clean hydrogen powered 40 seat aircraft
Credit: Connect Airlines | Universal Hydrogen

In January, ZeroAvia announced that its 19-seater jet had completed a flight using nothing but green hydrogen - a fuel that produces no harmful carbon pollution and is made with clean energy. At that time, the flight was the largest ever for an aircraft powered only by a hydrogen-electric engine. But about six weeks later, on 2 March, the aerospace company Universal Hydrogen completed an even larger test flight.


This plane (nicknamed Lightning McClean) could seat 40 passengers. Universal Hydrogen aims to complete commercial flights, through a partnership with Connect Airlines, within the next three years.


In a press release after the historic test flight, John Thomas, the CEO of Connect Airlines, was quick to celebrate the significance of the milestone: “Today will go down in the history books as the true start to the decarbonization of the global airline industry,” Thomas said. “We at Connect Airlines are extremely proud of the role that we, as the first U.S. operator, will play in leading the way with Universal Hydrogen,” Thomas wrote. “We have committed to being North America’s first zero-emission airline.”


In further good news, these two new companies are going to be competing against two behemoths of the industry: Rolls-Royce and Airbus. And these big boys are testing out jets (rather than propellers) with engines that can use hydrogen fuel.


Soon, the world’s planes should be running on clean, hyper-efficient hydrogen fuel instead of the dirty energy sources that passenger flights use today. Then, when batteries weigh less and last longer, electric powered planes will join the clean hydrogen planes in the sky.

 

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