Alaska Airlines and ZeroAvia will collaborate to retrofit the airline’s Dash 8 Q400 regional turboprop with a hydrogen-electric propulsion system. The handover of the aircraft, which will be used to expand the reach and applicability of zero-emissions flight technology, took place during an event at ZeroAvia’s Paine Field research and development site.

Previously part of Alaska Airlines’ regional carrier Horizon Air’s retired Q400 fleet, the aircraft was repainted with a special livery that highlights the partnership’s innovative mission.

“This is a great step forward in aviation innovation, to help create a new future of flight – right here at home,” said Ben Minicucci, CEO of Alaska Airlines. “Alaska Airlines has defined a five-part journey to achieve net zero carbon emissions long-term, but we can’t get there alone. New technologies are required to make that future possible.”

The event also saw ZeroAvia debut its multi-megawatt modular electric motor system in a 1.8MW prototype configuration, which was demonstrated with a propeller spin aboard the ZeroAvia 15-ton HyperTruck ground-test rig. The electric motor technology is combined with ZeroAvia’s higher-temperature PEM fuel cells and advanced power electronics and is one of the three key building blocks for enabling commercially relevant hydrogen fuel cell engines for larger aircraft.

“Launching this programme puts us on track for a test flight next year and accelerates our progress toward the future of zero-emission flight for Alaska Airlines and for the world at large,” said Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO, ZeroAvia.

Among the attendees at the handover event was Jay Inslee, Washington State Governor; Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01); Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive; as well as high school students from Raisbeck Aviation High School.

Congresswoman DelBene said: “As we work to meet our emissions reduction goals, we must prioritise decarbonising the commercial transportation sector. Washington State is leading the nation in developing and deploying clean energy technologies, and the Alaska Airlines-ZeroAvia partnership is a prime example.

“This collaboration could revolutionise the aviation industry to make our planes greener and our skies cleaner,” she added.

Image: ZeroAvia