World’s first hydrogen-fuelled flight takes off

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The world’s first flight by a “commercially available aircraft” powered by hydrogen fuel cells has been heralded as a milestone in the development of sustainable aviation.

Developer ZeroAvia operated the flight from its research and development facility at Cranfield Airport in Bedfordshire, England on Thursday.

The six-seater Piper Malibu plane completed the 20-minute flight using zero-emission hydrogen as part of the HyFlyer project supported by a UK government grant.

The company is now working towards a 250-mile zero-emission flight out of an airfield in Orkney before the end of the year.

The plane’s technology has been praised (Madano/PA)

This is roughly the equivalent of popular short-haul routes such as London-Edinburgh and Los Angeles-San Francisco.

ZeroAvia chief executive Val Miftakhov said: “It’s hard to put into words what this means to our team, but also for everybody interested in zero-emission flight.

“While some experimental aircraft have flown using hydrogen fuel cells as a power source, the size of this commercially available aircraft shows that paying passengers could be boarding a truly zero-emission flight very soon.”

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British business and industry minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “Developing aircraft that create less pollution will help the UK make significant headway in achieving net zero-carbon emissions by 2050.

The plane completed a test flight (Madano/PA)

“Backed by Government funding, this flight is another exciting milestone in ZeroAvia’s project.

“It shows that technologies to clean up air travel are now at our fingertips, with enormous potential to build back better and drive clean economic growth in the UK.”

Meanwhile a partnership between the UK government and the aviation sector to develop zero-emission flying has announced its membership and ambitions.

The Jet Zero Council will feature leaders from Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Shell, technology and investor groups, Heathrow Airport boss John Holland-Kaye and British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz.

On Monday Airbus unveiled concepts for hydrogen-fuelled aircraft it said could enter service by 2035.

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