MEHAIR offers services across the Indian sub-continent and has ambitious plans to grow across a range of sub-regional routes in India, starting with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with both amphibian and wheeled aircraft. It will explore a range of options for financing the acquisition and retrofit of the engines to its upcoming fleet of 10 Cessna Caravan aircraft with potential leasing partners.
The company already has a relationship with zero-emissions regional turboprop aircraft lessor Monte for the ZA600 engines, and the two will also work together on establishing the fuel supply for the operator's services across India. MEHAIR has also already ordered up to 50 Jekta PHA-ZE 100 all-electric amphibious aircraft.
ZeroAvia plans to certify the ZA600 by the end of 2025 and is already working closely with the UK's CAA, as well as other regulators, to ensure harmonisation and rapid certification globally. This order adds to the over 2,000 engine pre-orders already secured.
India has big aspirations to use hydrogen as a key enabler of its clean energy future, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors like aviation, and to deliver net zero by 2070. A target of reaching five million metric tons of hydrogen production per annum has been set for 2030.
Aviation too is growing dramatically across the country, with passenger numbers more than doubling over the last decade and more than 500 million passengers per annum predicted by 2030 according to CAPA, India.
Siddharth Verma, managing director, MEHAIR, says: "Operating under the highly successful UDAN Scheme, Government of India, amphibian and other small-wheeled aircraft can provide the much needed 'last-mile' connectivity by bringing in a seamless network of runways and waterways, all the while offering an exceptional experience for passengers and boosting local economies. Aligning with the Government's vision of sustainable aviation, we believe we need to find sustainable ways to power our operations in the future, and we're excited by what ZeroAvia's technology offers and the progress demonstrated so far. We hope to spearhead this new revolution in partnership with ZeroAvia and the Government of India."
James Peck, chief customer officer, ZeroAvia, adds: "The rapid increase in demand for flights will be a key driver of economic growth and social and cultural exchange, but clean flight technology will be essential to ensure it does not derail net zero progress. Hydrogen fuel cell propulsion can offer lower operating costs and zero-emission flight, driving a rapid increase in regional aviation and support dramatic expansion of MEHAIR's operations."
Hydrogen-electric engines use hydrogen in fuel cells to generate electricity, which is then used to power electric motors to turn the aircraft's propellers. The only emission is water.