March 2, 2024

Hydrogen-electric aircraft developer ZeroAvia Inc. has completed its series C funding round for a total of $116 million, with the UK Infrastructure Bank (UKIB) investing in the company and moving it closer to the certification of its first engines.

The UKIB joins the round as a cornerstone-level investor alongside co-leads Airbus, Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital and NEOM Investment Fund (NIF).

The financing supports the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) status as a market leader in research and development in both aviation and hydrogen and will support ZeroAvia’s ambitious growth plans in the UK, the company said in a recent news release.

According to the release, the funding helps the UK government in decarbonizing aviation by 2050 by developing new clean propulsion technologies, as it is one of the most challenging sectors to decarbonize, contributing the equivalent of more than 38 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from international and domestic journeys starting and ending in the UK. Around a quarter of UK carbon emissions are predicted to come from aviation in 2050. The success of hydrogen in aviation can act as a catalyst for the development and rollout of wider hydrogen infrastructure, helping to create a green hydrogen market in the UK and beyond, ZeroAvia said.

“ZeroAvia has grown rapidly in the UK as we have worked to deliver two major historic milestones in aerospace engineering as we look to preserve the benefits of flight through clean propulsion”, ZeroAvia Founder and CEO Val Miftakhov said. “This backing by such a preeminent investor as the UK Infrastructure Bank will help us deliver the first commercial zero-emission flights, and help the UK realise substantial export potential. We are looking forward to working with UKIB over the next few years.”

“This is a great example of the bank supporting a first of a kind technology that has real potential to have a telling impact on carbon emissions and help position the UK at the forefront of a developing green hydrogen ecosystem”, UKIB Head of Banking and Investments Ian Brown said. “Aviation and hydrogen are sectors that need significant private investment to get to net zero. By providing confidence to investors, our equity has helped to crowd in the private investment needed for the continued development of this cutting-edge technology and should help stimulate the development and deployment of hydrogen technology across other hard to decarbonize sectors”.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Alaska Airlines, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, AP Ventures, and Amazon Climate Pledge Fund also participated in the funding round, according to the release.

Agreement with UK’s Ecojet

Meanwhile, ZeroAvia signed an agreement with newly launched airline Ecojet for up to 70 hydrogen-electric, zero-emission engines, according to a separate news release.

Ecojet will begin operations in 2024 with conventionally powered aircraft operating routes to and from Edinburgh, before converting its fleet to become what it aims to be the world’s first electric airline. The airline will achieve its goal by retrofitting its aircraft with ZeroAvia’s ZA600 engines once certified, which the company targets in 2025.

“Clean aviation will mean increased regional air travel and new routes, Ecojet can capitalize based on their clear focus on low-emission travel”, Miftakhov said. “The UK Government’s Jet Zero Strategy has set a great example for the world to follow, but the UK can go much further by being early to act and introducing some of the first zero-emission routes in the world”.

Based in the USA and the UK, ZeroAvia said it has already secured experimental certificates for its three prototype aircraft from the Civil Aviation Authority and Federal Aviation Administration, passed significant flight test milestones, secured a number of key partnerships with major aircraft OEMs, secured pre-orders for nearly 2,000 engines from a number of the major global airlines, with future revenue potential over $10 billion. Its hydrogen-electric engines use hydrogen in fuel cells to generate electricity, which is then used to power electric motors to turn the aircraft’s propellers, with the only emission being water.

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