Milestones in Electric Aviation Technology
On January 19th, 2023, ZeroAvia conducted the first flight of the world’s largest hydrogen-electric powered aircraft, the “Dornier 228,” marking a significant advancement in the development of sustainable aviation technology.
The “Dornier 228” uses a combination of electric motors and a hydrogen fuel cell to power its two engines, with the fuel cell providing energy to the engines and recharging the plane’s batteries. This technology has the potential to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of air travel, as hydrogen fuel cells produce only water as a byproduct.
Companies Involved in Electric Aviation
In addition to the “Dornier 228,” several other companies are involved in the development of electric aviation projects including startups such as Eviation with its nine-passenger electric plane called Alice. The Alice is powered by a lithium-ion battery system and has a range of up to 620 miles and can fly at a speed of up to 276 mph.
Other startups and companies in the electric aviation industry include Heart Aerospace with its ES-30 plane for 30 passengers, Eve, Lilium, Vertical, Volocopter, and Joby with their e-VTOLs, and established companies such as Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer, which have developed their own electric aircraft projects.
Challenges and the Future of Electric Aviation
Despite recent advances, electric aviation still faces several significant challenges, such as the regulatory adequacy of the technology, the development of more powerful and longer-lasting batteries, and the need for adequate airport infrastructure to support electric aircraft.
In particular, the development of more efficient batteries is crucial for the success of electric aviation, as it determines the range and payload capacity of electric aircraft. Currently, the energy density of batteries used in electric aircraft’s is significantly lower than that of fossil fuels, and their weight and cost remain a challenge.