Hydrogen-electric powertrain developer ZeroAvia has added two new senior hires and a new member to its advisory board.
James McMicking joins as the company's first vice president of strategy from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), the body in charge of developing the technology strategy for the UK aerospace sector. As one of the original executives to set up the ATI, McMicking has held several positions throughout the business over seven years, including its head of strategy and operations.
"Through my work, in recent years I have seen first hand the rapid progression of zero-emission technologies for flight, so it is exhilarating to be joining a company that I believe is taking the right approach and is on the path to certification and market adoption in the very near future," says McMicking. "True zero-emission technology will reduce aviation's climate impact, improve air quality around airports and enable better regional connectivity in the future."
A mechanical engineer by training, McMicking brings experience covering advanced R&D, business and innovation strategy, and transformation. At the ATI, he worked extensively with organisations throughout the aerospace tech sector and UK Government to support research and development, navigate complex strategic challenges and catalyse innovation.
At ZeroAvia, he is now responsible for building a strategic roadmap for the business, both from a commercial and technical point of view, to reach its 2024 target, working in collaboration with CEO Val Miftakhov and the rest of the executive team.
Arnab Chatterjee joins the company as vice president of infrastructure. He previously spent almost a decade at Shell working on low carbon fuel, digital, e-mobility and renewable energy solutions in a range of technical, commercial and strategy roles. Most recently he has been driving Shell's efforts in hydrogen at a global scale. Chatterjee has a background in chemical product development, venture investments and corporate development. He has a PhD in electrochemistry from the University of Oxford.
In his new role, Chatterjee will be responsible for working with aviation and energy industry partners to deliver the hydrogen production and refuelling infrastructure required to support the adoption of hydrogen-electric propulsion. He says: "Seeing ZeroAvia's aircraft in the sky for the first time last year was a real lightning bolt moment, and I have followed the R&D progress closely. With a 19 seat aircraft close to flight testing, and commercialisation a little over two years away, ground infrastructure requires equal focus to ensure our success in transforming the future of flight. It is an exciting challenge ahead."
Joining ZeroAvia's advisory board is Jim Peterson, an expert in propulsion integration. He brings over 35 years of experience from his time at Boeing where he was chief engineer of propulsion, responsible for integrating engines into various Boeing airframes.
"We're delighted to have these three remarkable leaders on our team," comments ZeroAvia CEO Val Miftakhov. "Adding strong strategic firepower to the business, as well as industry-leading expertise to continue our rapid R&D advancement, will help us to take things to a new level in 2022."
The executive and advisory board additions bookend a successful year for ZeroAvia. Beyond being named one of the world's most innovative companies by Fast Company and a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, the company made significant strides on its R&D. It completed 35 test flights of its six seat prototype, part of the UK Government-backed HyFlyer I project.
The company also ramped up work on the HyFlyer II project, focused on delivering its commercial entry product, a 600 kW hydrogen-electric powertrain for 10-20 seat aircraft. In September, it welcomed its Dornier 228 testbed aircraft to its new base at Cotswold airport in the UK, immediately beginning work to install its powertrain technology. The team is already well advanced in preparation for flight testing early next year.
ZeroAvia is initially targeting 500 mile range in 10-20 and 40-90 seat aircraft used for commercial passenger transport, cargo, agriculture and more. Based in the UK and USA, it has already secured experimental certificates for two prototype aircraft from the CAA and FAA, passed significant flight test milestones and is on track for initial commercial operations of its technology in 2024. The company's expanding UK operations are supported by grants from UK's Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, and ZeroAvia is part of the UK Prime Minister's Jet Zero Council.
ZeroAvia raised over $70 million in 2021, taking the total to $115 million, with the most recent round of $35 million announced in December. The company also increased its headcount to nearly 100 employees globally.
There were several highly significant commercial deals throughout the year's final quarter, amounting to more than 460 commitments for hydrogen-electric engines and several important joint development programmes. In the second half of the year, it also cemented a number of deals that included an intention to develop one of the world's first commercial zero-emission routes from London to Rotterdam the Hague airport; investment and purchase options from airlines such as Alaska Airlines and United Airlines; and partnerships with a variety of aviation players such as De Havilland of Canada, Rose Cay, Hindustan Aeronautics, ASL Aviation Holdings and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Regional Jet division. The total number of engines (excluding spares) for in service or stored aircraft produced by the OEMs that ZeroAvia has signed deals with stands at over 7,000, showing the scale of the opportunity.
"This commercial traction alongside the technical progress has been a massive boost for the company," Miftakhov continues. "It demonstrates how receptive the market is for both our ZA600 and ZA2000 powertrains, and illustrates that hydrogen-electric is the only meaningful solution for zero-emission aviation."