American Airlines to Purchase 100 Hydrogen-Powered Engines

A ZeroAvia American Airlines regional jet with hydrogen powered engines in flight.
Photo Credit: American Airlines

American Airlines has signed a conditional agreement with ZeroAvia to purchase 100 hydrogen-electric engines for regional jets, aiming for zero-emission flights.

The airline has also boosted its investment in ZeroAvia, participating in their Series C funding round.

This engine deal follows a 2022 Memorandum of Understanding between the companies. ZeroAvia is developing hydrogen-electric engines for commercial planes, offering near-zero inflight emissions.

They’re currently testing a 20-seat prototype and designing an engine for larger aircraft. This will support aircraft like the Bombardier CRJ700, used by American on some regional routes.

American Airlines Increased Investment

These cutting-edge engines are designed to power regional jet aircraft, promising zero inflight emissions except for water vapor.

Deepening its commitment to ZeroAvia’s vision, American Airlines has also increased its investment in the company.

The airline first invested in ZeroAvia in 2022 and has now participated in the company’s Series C financing round, demonstrating continued confidence in the potential of hydrogen-electric propulsion technology.

The engine agreement builds upon the Memorandum of Understanding the two companies announced in 2022, signaling a rapid progression from concept to potential implementation.

A ZeroAvia American Airlines regional jet with hydrogen powered engines in flight.

Targeting Regional Jets

ZeroAvia’s ambitious project focuses on developing hydrogen-electric engines for commercial aircraft, offering a revolutionary approach to reducing aviation’s carbon footprint.

Currently, ZeroAvia is making significant strides in its technology development. The company is actively flight testing a prototype engine for a 20-seat plane, showcasing the viability of their concept for smaller aircraft.

Simultaneously, they are designing an engine for larger aircraft such as the Bombardier CRJ700, which American operates on certain regional routes.

This dual-pronged approach allows ZeroAvia to refine their technology while preparing for broader commercial applications.

A ZeroAvia American Airlines regional jet with hydrogen powered engines in flight.
Photo Credit: American Airlines

American Airlines’ CEO Robert Isom emphasized the importance of this initiative for commercial operators.

“Advancing the transition of commercial aviation to a low-carbon future requires investments in promising technologies, including alternate forms of propulsion.”

“This announcement will help accelerate the development of technologies needed to power our industry and uphold our commitment to make American a sustainable airline so we can continue to deliver for customers for decades to come.”

The investment and conditional commitment to purchase this novel hydrogen powered engine technology contribute significantly to American’s aggressive goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

This target aligns with global efforts to combat climate change and positions American Airlines at the forefront of sustainable aviation practices.

An American Airlines CRJ-700 jet in flight.
Alan Wilson , CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Historic Fleet Renewal Program

In recent years, American has undertaken the most extensive fleet renewal effort in the history of commercial aviation.

This initiative has resulted in American now boasting the youngest mainline fleet of any major U.S. network carrier.

Beyond the environmental benefits, this fleet modernization also improves fuel efficiency, reducing both costs and emissions.

American’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond aircraft technology. The airline has made industry-leading investments in various sustainable initiatives.

These include finalizing an offtake agreement with Infinium, a producer of next-generation low-carbon sustainable aviation fuel.

Additionally, American became the first customer of Graphyte’s innovative and permanent carbon removal process, further diversifying its approach to reducing its environmental impact.

ZeroAvia’s Founder and CEO Val Miftakhov also expressed enthusiasm about the partnership. “In signing this purchase agreement and furthering its investment, American is supporting our mission of innovation for clean aircraft propulsion”

“It is a good signal that ZeroAvia is delivering on our technology roadmap. The solutions that can serve the largest airlines are within reach, and the clean future of flight is coming.”

ZeroAvia Engine Technology

The technology behind ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric engines is both innovative and promising. These hydrogen powered engines use hydrogen in fuel cells to generate electricity, which is then used to power electric motors that turn the aircraft’s propellers.

This process results in only one inflight emission: low-temperature water vapor. Beyond the environmental benefits, the lower intensity electrical systems have the potential to offer significant cost savings.

This makes hydrogen powered engines an attractive option for airlines looking to balance economic and environmental concerns.

As the aviation industry faces increasing pressure to reduce its carbon footprint, partnerships like the one between American Airlines and ZeroAvia represent a crucial step towards a more sustainable future.

By investing in and committing to emerging technologies, major airlines can drive innovation and accelerate the transition to cleaner, more efficient air travel.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 6 Min Read
6 Min Read
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