Alaska Airlines and ZeroAvia developing world’s largest zero-emission aircraft

Alaska Airlines donates a Q400 to ZeroAvia for development of hydrogen propulsion technology at Paine Field. Demonstration of propellers driven by HyperTruck ground-test rig. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has handed over a Dash 8 Q400 regional turboprop to ZeroAvia, a leader in hydrogen-electric aircraft propulsion systems, for retrofitting with a hydrogen-electric system.

This collaboration aims to develop zero-emission flight technology and support Alaska Airlines’ journey to net-zero carbon emissions. The aircraft will be used for research and development to advance zero-emissions technology in the aviation industry.

ZeroAvia showcased its multi-megawatt modular electric motor system in a 1.8MW prototype configuration at the event, which is set to be a key building block for commercially viable hydrogen fuel cell engines for larger aircraft. The collaboration with Dash 8-400 airframe will produce a zero-emission aircraft, with an engine five times more powerful than any demonstrated to date.

According to Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO of ZeroAvia, a test flight is scheduled for next year, and the partnership aims to accelerate the future of zero-emission flight for Alaska Airlines and the world. ZeroAvia has already demonstrated a track record of world-first flight testing, and its recent advancements clear the way for the potential flight of the Q400, also known as Dash 8-400, while also making progress toward the certification of the ZA2000 propulsion system.

ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric engine uses fuel cells to generate electricity from hydrogen fuel, which then powers electric motors turning the aircraft propellers. The certifiable ZA2000 system will include ZeroAvia’s High Temperature PEM fuel cells and liquid hydrogen fuel storage, essential for commercial operations of large regional turboprops. The company has established an engineering partnership with De Havilland of Canada, the original manufacturer of the Dash 8 family of aircraft.

Alaska Airlines and ZeroAvia began their partnership and investment in zero-emissions propulsion technology for regional aircraft in 2021. As the fifth largest US airline with a large regional network, Alaska Airlines is uniquely positioned to support the development of zero-emissions technology for regional aircraft.

Based in the US and the UK, ZeroAvia has secured experimental certificates for its three prototype aircraft from the CAA and FAA, passed significant flight test milestones, and is on track for commercial operations in 2025. The company’s expanding UK operations are supported by grants from the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, and ZeroAvia is part of the UK Government’s Jet Zero Council.