Renovation Of Zero Avia Plans For Hydrogen Conversion By Leasing Group Rose Cay And Irish Cargo Carrier

Renovation Of Zero Avia Plans For Hydrogen Conversion By Leasing Group Rose Cay And Irish Cargo Carrier
Courtesy by ZeroAvia

In partnership with ZeroAvia, asset management group Rose Cay Partners and Irish air freight carrier ASL announced plans to convert regional airliners to hydrogen propulsion. In conjunction with the ongoing United Nations COP26 climate change conference in Scotland, ZeroAvia announced plans to replace Jet A-burning twin turboprops with hydrogen-electric powertrains.

It plans to acquire up to 250 pre-owned aircraft to be converted to hydrogen power and leased to operators by Delaware-based Rose Cay, which calls itself a "real asset special situations investment platform." It did not specify which aircraft types it will market, but a publicity photo shows an ATR aircraft, and ZeroAvia's plans to introduce 19-seat airframes like the Dornier 228 into commercial service coincide with the company's declared goal of making first deliveries in 2024.

The company intends to deploy hydrogen infrastructure at airports around the world, according to Rose Cay. As well as aircraft, the company manages real estate, telecommunications, transportation and logistics, and energy assets.

As part of a partnership with ZeroAvia, ASL Aviation plans to convert 10 of its ATR72 freighters to hydrogen propulsion. The twin-turboprop aircraft, which seats 72 people in passenger services, will be the largest model specified for ZeroAvia’s conversion process so far, although the California-based start-up has declared its intention to also work on larger regional jets with up to 100 seats.

On November 9, ASL Airlines Ireland announced that it would provide ZeroAvia with a retired ATR72 aircraft for use in developing its two- to five-megawatt ZA2000 powertrain. A provisional agreement has been reached between the company and the FAA for the conversion of ten in-service aircraft by 2026.

Our carbon footprint must be reduced immediately, and ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric powertrain will enable us to operate regional freight services at a cost-effective price using existing aircraft now powered by traditional turbofan engines,” said ASL Aviation CEO Dave Andrew. We are encouraged by ZeroAvia's early flight test successes, as well as their extensive research and development efforts in the green hydrogen production and refueling ecosystem.

In partnership with the European Marine Energy Centre, ZeroAvia is developing a hydrogen airport refuelling ecosystem as part of the UK government-backed HyFlyer II program. At its base in Scotland's Orkney Islands, the center produces green hydrogen using wind and tidal power. To further explore how liquid hydrogen refueling might be conducted at airports, ZeroAvia recently received funding from the Department for Transport's Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure project.

ATR72 and Dash 8 twin turboprops are also in the works to be converted by rival hydrogen propulsion system developer Universal Hydrogen. It expects to start test flights with a 40-seat ATR42 prototype in 2022 after raising an additional $62 million to fund its commercial-service efforts by 2025.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed by India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and ZeroAvia this week. By converting the 19-seat Dornier 228 twin turboprop to hydrogen propulsion, it will support efforts to obtain a supplemental type certificate (STC).

Do 228s have been manufactured under license by the Bangalore-based group since 1983 for operators, including the Indian military. New-build versions of the aircraft, which are expected to have a range of up to around 575 miles, will be fitted with ZeroAvia's 600-kW powertrain under the STC.

Approximately 242 Do 228 aircraft have been produced over the past four decades. During its agreement with Dornier of Germany, HAL produced over 150 aircraft and subassemblies.

Group chairman and managing director Shri Madhavan said HAL is committed to protecting and improving the environment. It is hoped that the MoU with ZeroAvia will pave the way for zero-emission regional connectivity. We look forward to steering and supporting sustainable and environmentally friendly aviation in India and around the world."

This story was updated to include details about Rose Cay's plans to acquire and convert aircraft to hydrogen propulsion for the airliner leasing market.

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