Irish company ASL Aviation Holdings has reached an agreement with companies developing zero-emission solutions to convert ATR 72s to hydrogen-electric propulsion. ASL Airlines Ireland will make one of its retired ATR72F aircraft available to ZeroAvia’s conversion programme to be used as a technology demonstrator, according to a company statement.
The ATR’s conventional engines would be replaced with the ZeroAvia ZA2000 Powertrain, a 2 to 5 megawatt propulsion system consisting of a hydrogen fuel cell and electric motors developed for passenger aircraft with seating capacities of 40 to 90 passengers. If the pilot project is successful, the airline will order the conversion of ten ATR72s, with the zero-emission, hydrogen-electric-powered freighters entering service from 2026.
The ASL group signed a similar memorandum of understanding with the US company Universal Hydrogen, also for the conversion of ten ATRs and the transfer of one for technology demonstration, back in October. The airline has now told Flightglobal that both agreements are valid. Both ZeroAvia and Universal Hydrogen are members of the ASL CargoVision Forum, which brings together sustainability initiatives in the air cargo industry across the group.
ZeroAvia has completed several test flights with its six-seat Piper M-class aircraft and is in the process of converting its 19-seat Dornier 228, which is due to take off for the first time in a few months. The zero-emission aircraft would also be used for commercial flights between Rotterdam and London from 2024, according to an earlier announcement. In parallel, the company is also developing solutions for refuelling hydrogen-fuelled aircraft.