Hydrogen-electric powertrain developer ZeroAvia has expanded an agreement that calls for Mitsubishi’s MHI RJ Aviation Group (MHIRJ) to provide engineering services and aircraft integration to support the certification of ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric powertrain for retrofit onto regional jet airframes. The agreement announced on May 25 follows a memorandum of understanding signed last October that outlined the MHI subsidiary’s contribution of engineering for certification of the engines to FAA Part 33 rules and advisory services to evaluate the feasibility of a green retrofit program for regional aircraft.
ZeroAvia characterizes as “well advanced” its plans to certify its 600kW ZA600 powertrain for 10- to 20-seat aircraft for entry into service in 2024. The company also has begun work on the ZA2000, a two- to five-MW modular powertrain meant for certification in 40- to 80-seat turboprops by 2026. The ZA2000RJ powertrain will expand that technology to regional jets as early as the late 2020s, said ZeroAvia.
Canada’s Bombardier has built more than 2,000 CRJ Series aircraft since the program’s launch in 1991. MHIRJ acquired the program in June 2020, giving it responsibility for CRJ maintenance, engineering, airworthiness certification support, refurbishment, asset management, marketing, and sales activities.
"There are hundreds of CRJ Series aircraft in daily operation across North America, transporting millions of passengers,” said ZeroAvia founder and CEO Val Miftakhov during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “All these flights can and should be zero-emission well before the end of this decade. This agreement is a giant step forward in delivering hydrogen-electric engines to the regional jet segment.”
During the last quarter of 2021, ZeroAvia secured partnerships and funding with Alaska Air Group and United Airlines to accelerate the development of its ZA2000 engine. The announcement with MHIRJ follows ZeroAvia's recent expansion of its Hollister location in California and a deal with Shell for hydrogen supply, as well as the opening of a facility at Paine Field in Washington state in January.