British Airways has teamed up with ZeroAvia for a project to explore how hydrogen-powered aircraft can play a leading role in the future of sustainable flying.

The collaboration will see ZeroAvia embedded in the heart of the airline.

The team will work remotely alongside mentors and experts to explore the transformational possibilities of moving from fossil fuels to zero-emission hydrogen to power the future fleet.

In September, ZeroAvia received global acclaim when it achieved a major technological breakthrough by completing the first hydrogen fuel cell powered flight of a commercial-size aircraft, which took off from Cranfield Airport.

The Piper M-class six-seat plane completed taxi, take-off, a full pattern circuit and landing.

The partnership forms part of the Hangar 51 accelerator programme from British Airways parent IAG, which works with start-ups and scale-ups from around the world, providing them with an opportunity to develop and test their products on real world business challenges on a global scale.

At the end of the programme, research and learnings from the process will be shared and the ZeroAvia and Hangar 51 teams will consider how the partnership will progress longer term.

Sean Doyle, chief executive of British Airways, said: “British Airways is committed to a sustainable future and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“In the short-term this means improving our operational efficiency and introducing carbon offset and removal projects, while in the medium to longer term we’re investing in the development of sustainable aviation fuel and looking at how we can help accelerate the growth of new technologies such as zero emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft.”

In 2021, ZeroAvia expects to further demonstrate the credibility of its technology at longer ranges and using larger aircraft.

The company expects to achieve the commercialisation of hydrogen-electric power for aircraft as early as 2023 with flights of up to 500-miles in up to 20-seater aircraft.

By 2027, it plans to have powerplants in service capable of powering commercial flights of over 500-miles in aircraft with up to 100 seats and by 2030 more than 1,000-miles in aircraft with 100+ seats.