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Aircraft company ZeroAvia secures $21.4 million for hydrogen-electric planes

Shell, Amazon and investment groups participate in funding round as the aircraft developer aims for first commercial zero emission flight in 2023.

ZeroAvia aircraft

ZeroAvia is an aircraft developer working on zero emission air travel at scale via hydrogen power, starting with 500 mile short-haul trips, at half of today’s cost.

Hydrogen-electric aircraft developer ZeroAvia has secured $21.4 million of backing from a raft of major investors, including Amazon and Shell, as the company completed its first fundraising round in support of plans to run its first commercial zero emission planes from 2023.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Ecosystem Integrity Fund led the investment round, with follow-on investment from the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, Horizons Ventures, Shell Ventures and Summa Equity, the start-up announced.

The news follows the announcement Saturday of a new partnership between ZeroAvia and British Airways to explore the development of zero emission aircraft for use in the airline's fleet, as well as the approval of $16.3 million of U.K. government funding via the Aerospace Technology Institute (ARI).

Today's latest announcement therefore brings total new funding in ZeroAvia to $37.7 million, and overall funding since the firm's inception to almost $50 million.

"Both aviation and the financial markets are waking up to the idea that hydrogen is the only meaningful path towards large-scale, zero-emission commercial flight," said Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO of ZeroAvia. "Powering a 100-seat plane on hydrogen is not out of the question. We feel deeply grateful to our top-tier investors for joining us in the next phase of our exciting journey; to bring in a new golden age of aviation."

By 2027, the company also plans to have hydrogen technologies in service capable of powering commercial aircraft carrying up to 100 people.

In September ZeroAvia completed the "world's first" hydrogen fuel cell power flight of a commercial-grade aircraft in the skies over Bedfordshire, England, and is aiming to carry out further tests next year with a target of running commercial hydrogen-electric, 20-seater flights with a range of up to 500 miles from as early as 2023.

By 2027, the company also plans to have hydrogen technologies in service capable of powering commercial aircraft carrying up to 100 people, ramping up to journeys of over 1,000 miles by 2030.

Kara Hurst, vice president for worldwide sustainability at Amazon, said the funding awarded via the firm's Climate Pledge Fund was aimed at supporting the development of technologies and services that would help companies deliver net zero emissions by 2040.

In September ZeroAvia completed the 'world's first' hydrogen fuel cell power flight of a commercial-grade aircraft.

"ZeroAvia's zero-emission aviation powertrain has real potential to help decarbonize the aviation sector, and we hope this investment will further accelerate the pace of innovation to enable zero-emission air transport at scale," she said.

Elisabeth Brinton, executive vice president for new energies at oil and gas giant Shell, described ZeroAvia's mission to develop hydrogen-electric flight as "innovation at its finest."

"In their respective journeys towards net-zero emissions, each industry faces its own unique challenges," she said. "ZeroAvia's work in hydrogen pushes the limits of the imagination — and brings the aviation industry a small step closer to the possibility of net zero-emissions flights."

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