Global hydrogen-electric aircraft developer ZeroAvia has received an approval from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to conduct a test flight of its Dornier 228 aircraft.

ZeroAvia has retrofitted the airplane with its hydrogen-electric powertrain prototype.

The firm obtained the CAA clearance after carrying out a ground testing drive and an evaluation of the full development programme under the supervision of the regulator.

With the Part 21 approval in place, ZeroAvia will start the first round of test flights of its 600kw hydrogen-electric powertrain.

The twin-engine aircraft, which features 19 seats, has been retrofitted in an engineering testbed configuration to include ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric engine to drive the left wing’s propellor.

It has also been designed to operate along with a single Honeywell TPE-331 stock engine on the right for a safe trial of the new propulsion technology.

ZeroAvia plans to begin the test flights in January next year.

Once completed, the test will be a major achievement for ZeroAvia and the HyFlyer II project, a research and development (R&D) project supported by the government of the UK’s ATI Programme, noted ZeroAvia.

The ATI Programme aims to build a 600kw hydrogen-electric powertrain for aircraft with capacity to carry nine to 19 people.

In order to conduct the test, ZeroAvia has worked with the CAA to meet the stricter requirements than the E-Conditions framework used by the firm while testing its six-seat prototype in 2020.

ZeroAvia founder and CEO Val Miftakhov said: “Earning our full Part 21 permit to fly with the CAA is a critical milestone as we develop a zero-emission aviation propulsion system that will be the most environmental and economical solution to the industry’s climate impact.

“We’re going to be starting 2023 in the best way possible, by demonstrating through flight that true zero-emission commercial flight is much closer than many think.”

In October this year, ZeroAvia announced the purchase of US-based fuel cell stack innovator HyPoint for an undisclosed sum.