De Havilland Canada, ZeroAvia Partner on Hydrogen for Dash 8

 - December 14, 2021, 4:15 PM
A ZeroAvia hydrogen-electric-powered Dash 8-400 would fly to a range of more than 500 nm. (Image: De Havilland Aircraft of Canada)

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada and zero-emission aviation powertrain developer ZeroAvia have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop a line-fit and retrofit program for De Havilland Canada's Dash 8-400 turboprop using hydrogen-electric propulsion in both new and in-service aircraft, the companies said Tuesday. The announcement comes a day after United Airlines said it would participate in a $35 million round of funding for ZeroAvia and reserve purchase rights for 100 of its powertrains to retrofit on regional jets such as the Bombardier CRJ550. 

As part of the latest MoU, De Havilland Canada secures options to purchase 50 ZeroAvia hydrogen-electric engines upon completion of a definitive agreement.

The companies plan to collaborate on a service bulletin for the Dash 8-400 type certificate that would allow for both a line-fit option and a retrofit of ZeroAvia’s 2-megawatt ZA2000 powertrain.

As part of the program, ZeroAvia would develop a flight demonstrator with De Havilland Canada's support using a Dash 8-400 to aid certification and showcase the operational and commercial potential of the engine. The companies plan to identify a suitable existing route for the flight demonstrations and aim for entry into service within the next five years. ZeroAvia and De Havilland Canada would jointly market aircraft powered by the hydrogen-electric engines to operators with power-by-the-hour (PBH) support.

In October, ZeroAvia announced a collaboration with Alaska Air Group to develop a hydrogen-electric powertrain capable of flying 76-seat regional aircraft more than 500 nautical miles, starting with initial deployment into a full-size Dash 8-400.

ZeroAvia expects to fly a 19-seat aircraft using its ZA600 powertrain in the coming weeks in a hybrid configuration (one conventional engine, one hydrogen-electric) before flying the same aircraft using only hydrogen-electric engines next year. For its ZA2000 program, ZeroAvia aims to perform full thrust ground demonstrations of its 1.8-megawatt engine variant by the end of 2022. From there, the company plans to win certification of its ZA2000 powertrain to support 40- to 80-seat aircraft with a potential range in excess of 700 nautical miles by 2026.