Hydrogen-electric powered aircraft firm backed by Bill Gates moves to Gloucestershire

Backed by Bill Gates, millions of pounds of government money, and GFirst LEP, a firm developing the world’s first commercial zero-carbon passenger plane is moving to the Cotswolds and creating jobs.

ZeroAvia, which has won £12 million of government funding to develop its ‘world’s leading’ innovations, has announced it is to open a major facility at Cotswold Airport at Kemble.

The UK-based Anglo American company will use Kemble to develop its HyFlyer II project, a hydrogen-electric powered aircraft which emits only water vapor during flight.

It is a move predicted to create 30 new jobs on top of its existing 20-strong team as it pursues its quest to build ‘the future of carbon zero air travel’.

Sergey Kiselev, vice president for Europe of ZeroAvia, said: ‘We were very impressed with what Cotswold Airport, local talent and support can offer the company as a base for the delivery of the HyFlyer II project.

‘It’s a beautiful part of the country and we’re looking forward to seeing more of it from the air as we take zero emission aviation towards commercial adoption with this project.’

Chris Lau, head of inward investment at GFirst LEP, which together with Cotswold District Council is supporting the business, said: ‘ZeroAvia’s investment is a testament to Gloucestershire’s strong expertise and track record in the aerospace sector.

‘We look forward to supporting ZeroAvia in creating highly skilled engineering jobs while spearheading innovation in clean growth and future air travel technology.’

Suzannah Harvey, chief executive officer of Cotswold Airport, said: ‘ZeroAvia are a huge asset to Cotswold Airport and the region.’

Rob Weaver, chief executive at Cotswold District Council, said: ‘Attracting a business at the cutting edge of environmental technology is exciting.’

According to Geekwire.com, Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures helped raise $21.4 million to help the business achieve its goals, then in April raised a further £24.3 million.

Involved in the fundraising rounds have been Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures, British Airways, Ecosystems Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, Shell Ventures and SystemIQ.

ZeroAvia forecasts deliver of its first market-ready 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft by 2023.

Its goal is to be ‘flight-ready for commercial 500-mile trips’ (the equivalent of a round trip from London to Edinburgh) by that date.

The business has already achieved the world-first short flight of a commercial-grade six-seater hydrogen-electric aircraft last September.

By Andrew Merrell

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© SoGlos
Friday 09 April 2021

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