In recent developments for the popular airline company’s push towards carbon neutrality, United Airlines has contracted energy research and development company ZeroAvia. They did this to refit its hydrogen-electric fuel cells to power chartered passenger planes. The ZeroAvia team has been testing its ZA2000-RJ model engine on test flights with small aircraft, with current runs on a small Piper M six-seater plane completed successfully.
The ZeroAvia aviation company wants to move up to 10-40 seat aircraft by 2028, with the range and capacity slowly increasing over the years. The huge and vital milestone with this recent partnership is to fit a hydroelectric fuel cell to the United CRJ-550 regional jet model, which would make the 50 seat passenger plane standalone in premium air travel. As ZeroAvia states, United Airlines has been making similar partnerships with different energy and technology sectors.
This, after Scott Kirby pledged the company to hold zero emissions in conducting its flights by the year 2050. Before signing on ZeroAvia, Kirby had approached air taxi company Archer to buy over 200 of the startups VTOL air taxis for chartered United. While other companies are testing fully electric air flight, the timetable for any commercialized electric flight is still unsure. According to ZeroAvia staff members, one deterrent to progress has been the calculated weight of the batteries capturing most of the plane’s lift with little left to carry passengers or cargo.
Kirby has noted that in the field of alternative power sources, hydrogen-electric cells with hybrid technology make the most sense for sustained air travel. The agency wants to see its fleet start to convert over by 2028, with United Express booking charters on zero-emission flights in as little as the next decade. As a company focused on renewing flight and travel, ZeroAvia founder and CEO Val Miftakhov has expressed the major boost to their cause the partnership with United has brought to their mission.