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American Airlines Commits to Zero-Emission Flight with 100 Hydrogen-Electric Engines from ZeroAvia

Photo courtesy of AA

On July 2, 2024, American Airlines announced a significant step towards sustainable aviation by entering a conditional purchase agreement with ZeroAvia for 100 hydrogen-electric engines. These engines are specifically designed to power regional jet aircraft, offering zero in-flight emissions apart from water vapor.

American Airlines has been actively supporting ZeroAvia since 2022, initially investing in the company and now participating in its Series C financing round. This latest engine agreement builds upon a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2022 between the two companies.

ZeroAvia, a pioneer in clean aviation technology, is currently developing hydrogen-electric (fuel cell-powered) engines that promise nearly zero in-flight emissions. The company is actively flight-testing prototypes for a 20-seat aircraft and is also designing engines suitable for larger planes like the Bombardier CRJ700, which American operates on regional routes.

"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," said American’s CEO, Robert Isom.

American Airlines aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, aligning its fleet renewal efforts with sustainability goals. The airline currently boasts one of the youngest mainline fleets among major U.S. carriers, emphasizing fuel efficiency and sustainability.

"In signing this purchase agreement and furthering its investment, American is supporting our mission of innovation for clean aircraft propulsion," said ZeroAvia Founder and CEO Val Miftakhov. "The solutions that can serve the largest airlines are within reach, and the clean future of flight is coming."

ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric engines operate by using hydrogen in fuel cells to generate electricity, which then powers electric motors that turn the aircraft’s propellers. This system produces only low-temperature water vapor as an emission and is expected to offer significant cost savings through its lower intensity electrical systems.

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