UK - Commercial-Scale Hydrogen Plane Takes Off

Arno Froese

As the plane rose from the runway for what was to prove a smooth and uneventful flight, the team breathed a sigh of relief. The six-seater Piper M-Class had been fitted out at a research and development hub at Cranfield airport in the UK to run on hydrogen, and on this maiden flight in the late summer of 2020 everything worked perfectly. With that flight, ZeroAvia, the California-based start-up that had developed the aircraft with partners in Britain and elsewhere, was ready to move to the next stage in the journey towards zero carbon aviation.

The UK government, together with private investors and commercial partners are supporting ZeroAvia in the development of an aircraft with a hydrogen-electric (fuel cell) powertrain capable of carrying up to 20 passengers about 350 nautical miles (648km). ZeroAvia’s founder and chief executive Val Miftakhov, says the company expects to offer commercial flights using such a plane as early as 2023, and that by 2026 it will be able to realize flights over a range of 500 nautical miles (926km) in aircraft with up to 80 seats. For 2030, Miftakhov has even bigger plans: “We will have single-aisle jets, 100-seat category,” he says.    

There is ambition in mainland Europe too. Hydrogen “is one of the most promising technology vectors to allow mobility to continue fulfilling the basic human need for mobility in better harmony with our environment,” says Grazia Vitaldini, chief technology officer at Airbus, the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer. In September 2020, Airbus announced that hydrogen-fueled propulsion systems would be at the heart of a new generation of zero-emissions commercial aircraft. The project, named ZeroE, is a flagship of the European Union’s multibillion-euro stimulus package, aimed at greening the bloc’s economy. 

As things stand, liquid hydrogen is more than four times as expensive as conventional jet fuel. Over the coming decades the price is expected to drop as infrastructure is scaled up and becomes more efficient. But according to Britain’s Royal Society and the management consulting group McKinsey, it is likely to remain at least twice as expensive as fossil fuels for the next few decades. 

For now, one thing remains almost certain: hydrogen and E fuels are likely to continue to be substantially more expensive than conventional jet fuel for years or decades to come, limiting their role in greening aviation—unless the other costs of aviation come to be weighed differently., 7 April 2021

Arno's Commentary

Environmental impact—including global warming, carbon footprint, etc.—are key words in the eco-political world. While not all experts are in agreement or enthusiastically support this so-called “hydrogen revolution in the skies,” the process will and must continue. Mankind will convince himself he is the master of his domain. If there is a problem, then a solution must be created. Needless to say, each new solution also creates unforeseen problems. But, historically speaking, that is how the industrial world developed; from walking behind a horse plowing the field, to jet planes carrying people from point A to point B. No country is exempt; thus, the race will continue. Hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of scientists the world over are feverishly working to build something that will meet the criteria of those who are alarmed about the world’s forests, oceans, air, and the very planet earth.

What we do know is that technology is leapfrogging ahead at a pace unthinkable only a century ago. Today, we are living in a new world. But in the end, there are two distinct plans: one designed and fostered by the god of this world; the other by the God of creation. Isaiah 42:5 proclaims: “Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.”

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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