A Piper Malibu Mirage being used by ZeroAvia to test its hydrogen propulsion system landed in a field just outside Cranfield Airport in England yesterday around 3:30 p.m. local time. While the two crewmembers on board were not injured, the aircraft sustained substantial damage.
A statement issued by ZeroAvia indicated that the aircraft made “a safe off-airport landing” during a “routine pattern test flight.” It said the aircraft landed on its wheels and almost came to a stop before it sustained damage as it reached uneven terrain at low speed.
A low-resolution image released by the local fire service, which attended the accident scene, showed the left wing completely detached from the airplane, along with damage to the horizontal stabilizer and cowling. The aircraft appeared to have collided with a hedge on the perimeter of the field.
On March 31, ZeroAvia announced plans to develop a 50-seat airliner powered by hydrogen in a project that will be supported by $24.3 million in new capital raised from investors including British Airways. The California-based start-up has been using the Piper as a flying testbed and has been preparing to conduct a 70-mile flight between Cranfield and Kemble airfield in southern England. ZeroAvia previously said it aims to make a flight of around 250 miles later this year from the Orkney Islands to the Scottish mainland.
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