Hydrogen-powered aircraft company ZeroAvia has closed what it describes as its “largest financing round to date” — although the exact amount is undisclosed — led by aerospace giant Airbus, bank Barclays, and Saudi Arabia’s NEOM “city of the future” urban development, with the aim of progressing its first fuel-cell engine towards certification and flights by 2025.
As part of its backing, Airbus has agreed to collaborate with ZeroAvia on certification approaches for hydrogen-power systems, as well as development of liquid H2 fuel storage, flight and ground testing of fuel-cell propulsion systems, and refuelling infrastructure and operations.
Other companies that backed the financing round include Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures, retail giant Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Hong Kong-based tech investor Horizons Ventures, and Alaska Airlines, the fifth-largest airline in the US by passenger numbers.
The round also saw finance from California-based Ecosystem Integrity Fund, private equity firm Summa Equity, and hydrogen-focused investor AP Ventures.
ZeroAvia tells Hydrogen Insight that prior to this announcement, it had secured $150m from investors.
The firm had first raised $21.4m as part of its $56m Series A funding at the end of 2020, which saw investment from Amazon, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity and Horizon Ventures, as well as Shell.
And a Series B round raised a total of $72m in mid-2022, bringing onboard airline companies Alaska, United Airlines and International Airlines Group, as well as $30m specifically from Barclays, Neom and impact fund AENU.
ZeroAvia had in January this year completed a test flight of its 19-seater prototype, retrofitted with the company’s 600kW hydrogen fuel cell powertrain ZA600 on one wing (with a conventional engine on the other), with production of the propulsion system to start in 2024.
And in addition to aiming to run its first commercial hydrogen-only flights with nine to 19 seats by 2025, ZeroAvia plans to ramp up its technology to power 40-80 seat flights as soon as 2027.
However, some voices have warned that this could be an overly ambitious timeline to complete extensive certification processes.
ZeroAvia last month also signed a partnership agreement with Emirati renewables developer Masdar to cooperate on hydrogen fuel supply, as well as exploring clean flight operations in the United Arab Emirates.