Hydrogen propulsion pioneer ZeroAvia is to open a research and development facility at the Seattle-area Paine Field airport. The company will use the site to work on its ZA2000 powertrain for converting the DeHavilland Dash 8 Q400 twin turboprop regional airliner through a previously announced partnership with Alaska Airlines.
Washington state’s Department of Commerce is providing a $350,000 grant to support ZeroAvia’s move. The funds requested via the Economic Alliance Snohomish County will be used to convert a warehouse into a space that can house 20 design and software engineers from the California-based company.
ZeroAvia is working on plans to convert other regional airliners, such as those in the Bombardier CRJ family, with the 3-MW ZA2000 unit, and has also received commitments from United Express, which is the launch customer for that program. Using its smaller 600-kW ZA600 powertrain, it is preparing to conduct test flights with a converted 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft and believes that commercial services with this application could start in 2024 with a range of up to around 575 miles.
In addition to its California headquarters and the new Paine Field facility, the company has a research and development operation at Kemble Airport in the UK, where it also has benefitted from government funding. It recently announced a fresh investment of around $35 million from United Airlines and Alaska Air, building on earlier support from backers including Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund and Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
Snohomish County, which is also home to Boeing’s airliner factory at Everett, has an aerospace cluster consisting of some 500 companies. These generate more than $60 billion in revenues annually and support up to 159,000 jobs directly or indirectly.
ZeroAvia is competing with Universal Hydrogen to convert regional airliners to hydrogen-based electric propulsion using fuel cells. Its rival is also focused on the Dash 8 aircraft, as well as the ATR42 twin turboprop.