Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Aviation company ZeroAvia announced it has made the world's first flight of a commercial-grade aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
The company said it retrofitted a Piper M-class six-seat airplane with the fuel cell at its research and development facility in Cranfield, Britain. In a test flight Wednesday, the airplane off, completed a full pattern circuit, landed and taxied without the aid of fossil fuel.
"It's hard to put into words what this means to our team, but also for everybody interested in zero-emission flight," Val Miftakhov, CEO of ZeroAvia said in a statement. "While some experimental aircraft have flown using hydrogen fuel cells as a power source, the size of this commercially available aircraft shows that paying passengers could be boarding a truly zero-emission flight very soon."
ZeroAvia said it will attempt to have the airplane make a 250-mile trip to an airfield in Orkney, Scotland, from Britain by the end of 2020. The company said the trip would be equivalent to completing popular short-trip routes like from Los Angeles to San Francisco or London to Edinburgh, Scotland.
"Aviation is a hotbed of innovation and ZeroAvia's fantastic technology takes us all one step closer to a sustainable future for air travel," said British Shipping and Aviation Minister Robert Courts in a statement. "Through our ground-breaking Jet Zero partnership we're working hard with industry to drive innovation in zero-carbon flight, and we look forward to seeing the sector go from strength to strength."
United Kingdom government funding has supported the venture.