American Airlines Moves Towards Sustainability with Hydrogen-Electric Engine Deal

American Airlines has recently made a bold move towards a more sustainable future by signing a conditional purchase agreement with hydrogen-electric aviation solutions startup ZeroAvia for 100 engines that can power regional jet aircraft with zero inflight emissions save for water vapor. The deal also includes an increase in American Airlines' investment in ZeroAvia through participation in its Series C financing round.


ZeroAvia, a clean aviation innovator, is developing hydrogen-electric, fuel cell-powered engines for commercial aircraft that offer the potential for close to zero inflight emissions. The company is currently flight testing a prototype for a 20-seat plane and designing an engine for larger aircraft such as the Bombardier CRJ700, which American Airlines operates on certain regional routes. The agreement follows a memorandum of understanding signed between the two companies in 2022, which provided American Airlines the opportunity to order up to 100 engines from ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric powertrain development program. The airline's increased investment in ZeroAvia is part of its broader effort to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.


"Advancing the transition of commercial aviation to a low-carbon future requires investments in promising technologies, including alternate forms of propulsion," said American Airlines CEO Robert Isom. "This announcement will help accelerate the development of technologies needed to power our industry and uphold our commitment to make American a sustainable airline so we can continue to deliver for customers for decades to come." ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric engines use hydrogen in fuel cells to power electric motors to turn an aircraft's propellers, resulting in zero inflight emissions save for water vapor. 

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The company is also working towards certification of its initial product, the ZA600, a 500-750-kW hydrogen-electric engine designed for 9-19-passenger aircraft, which is on track for certification by the end of 2025. The partnership between American Airlines and ZeroAvia is a significant step towards the adoption of sustainable aviation technologies and underscores the airline's commitment to reducing its environmental impact. As the aviation industry continues to explore ways to decarbonize, hydrogen-electric propulsion systems like those being developed by ZeroAvia are likely to play a crucial role in the future of air travel.

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