American Airlines to buy 100 hydrogen powertrains from ZeroAvia, ups investment 


American Airlines and ZeroAvia, a firm developing hydrogen propulsion systems for aircraft, are strengthening the ties between the two companies. 

The two firms announced on July 2, 2024, that the US carrier has committed to the conditional purchase of 100 hydrogen fuel cell powertrains from ZeroAvia and will be increasing its investment in the startup by an undisclosed amount. 

Since 2022, American Airlines has been an investor in ZeroAvia. When the carrier made its first investment in the startup, it also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that gave it the option to purchase 100 powertrains. This has now been exercised dependent on some conditions. 

ZeroAvia is currently testing its ZA600 powertrain on a specially modified Dornier Do228 aircraft but plans to soon launch the larger and more powerful ZA2000 propulsion system. 

The larger system could power aircraft the size of a Bombardier CRJ700, which is used on American Airlines’ regional feeder operations. 

The announcement was made at a time when the hydrogen aviation community is recovering from the shock brought about by the demise of Universal Hydrogen, one of the pioneering and, until recently, most promising startups in this field. 

Universal Hydrogen burned through $100 million in the development of a hydrogen propulsion system that could be fed from easily swapable hydrogen capsules. The startup had to close in June 2024 after being unable to raise additional funds. 

American Airlines’ endorsement of ZeroAvia represents, thus, an important vote of confidence on the hydrogen propulsion technology. 

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