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The Business Magazine May 2024
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ZeroAvia and Birmingham Airport plan for zero-emission flights

Cotswold Airport based Zeroavia one of 15 £3 million zero emission flight competition winners
20 February 2023

Last month, Gloucestershire-based aeronautics innovator ZeroAvia made aviation history, flying the largest aircraft in the world to be powered by a hydrogen-electric engine.

Now the aviation disruptor is working with Birmingham Airport which thrown down the gauntlet to other airports, in a bid to become the first in Britain to operate commercial zero-emission hydrogen-fuelled flights — and by as early as 2025.

Hydrogen-electric engines use hydrogen in fuel cells to generate electricity, which is then used to power electric motors to turn the aircraft’s propellers, with the only byproduct being water.

ZeroAvia is currently working on bringing to market a zero-emission system capable of flying 20-seat aircraft 300 nautical miles by 2025.

This opens up the possibility of green air travel from Birmingham to destinations like Glasgow, Aberdeen, Belfast and Dublin by the mid 20s.

In a move that would make zero-emission travel to Mediterranean holiday destinations a reality, ZeroAvia is aiming to get an emissions-free 80-seat aircraft flying up to 1,000 nautical miles by 2027.

For Birmingham Airport, the partnership with ZeroAvia forms an important part of its journey to become a net-zero-carbon airport by 2033.

The airport plans to use an area near to its disused Elmdon terminal building as a potential location for hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, testing and operations.

Arnab Chatterjee, VP Infrastructure, ZeroAvia, said:“Birmingham Airport can be a central spoke in a green flight network in the UK, given that any domestic mainland destination will be reachable from the airport using our first systems in 2025. Given the commitments of the Jet Zero Strategy on domestic aviation, it is fantastic to engage with forward-thinking airports that want to be early innovators and developers to deliver the vision of bringing truly clean, quiet and pollution free flights to the UK.”

Simon Richards, Chief Finance & Sustainability Officer, Birmingham Airport, added: “We are thrilled to partner with ZeroAvia on creating solutions to the main challenge of our generation – protecting the future of our planet. We could, quite conceivably, see the first hydrogen-powered domestic passenger flight taking off from BHX in the UK in a few years. That’s mind-blowing.”

Pre-pandemic, Birmingham Airport served around 12.5 million passengers a year, and more than half the population of the UK, live within a two-hour drive or train journey of the airport. By 2023, Birmingham Airport want to increase its annual passenger numbers to more than 18 million, which will result in GVA rising to £2.1 billion and jobs supported to 34,000

When the new HS2 railway is open, complete with its automated people mover linking directly to the BHX terminal, central London will be just 37 minutes away by train.

Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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