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This record-setting, hydrogen-fueled plane promises to change air travel forever: 'Will go down in the history books'

"We have committed to being North America's first zero-emission airline."

Universal Hydrogen, 40-seater plane with green hydrogen

Photo Credit: @PaulEremenko / Twitter

In early 2023, the company ZeroAvia announced that its 19-seater jet had completed a flight using nothing but green hydrogen — a fuel that produces no harmful carbon pollution and is made with clean energy. 

At that time, the flight was the largest ever for an aircraft powered only by a hydrogen-electric engine. But about a month and a half later, on March 2, the aerospace company Universal Hydrogen completed an even larger test flight. 

This plane (nicknamed Lightning McClean) could seat 40 passengers. Universal Hydrogen aims to complete commercial flights, through a partnership with Connect Airlines, within the next three years

In a press release after the historic test flight, John Thomas, the CEO of Connect Airlines, was quick to celebrate the significance of the milestone.

"Today will go down in the history books as the true start to the decarbonization of the global airline industry," Thomas said. "We at Connect Airlines are extremely proud of the role that we, as the first U.S. operator, will play in leading the way with Universal Hydrogen," Thomas wrote. "We have committed to being North America's first zero-emission airline." 

But the company won't be without competitors in this effort. Rolls-Royce, Airbus, and ZeroAvia are all testing out jets with engines that can use hydrogen fuel. 

And considering the fact that the airline industry is an extremely fast-growing source of harmful carbon pollution, this competition is surely a good thing. Soon, the world's planes may be running on clean, hyper-efficient hydrogen fuel instead of the dirty energy sources that passenger flights use today.

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