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Big-name backers: ZeroAvia lists British Airways, Shell Ventures, Amazon Climate Pledge Fund and Horizon Ventures among its investors


hydrogen. There is greater impetus behind producing hydrogen from renewables and, at the same time, hydrogen electrolysers allow you to store energy that can cover the inter- mittencies or to fuel planes, he says. “Hydrogen actually allows you to


not only make aviation cleaner, but also to bring more renewable genera- tion into the grid that you could oth- erwise not integrate.”


Public perception Safety concerns over hydrogen, par- ticularly its flammability, persist, despite such concerns being over- blown, Mr Miftakhov states. For some, the Hindenburg disaster of 1937—where a spark ignited leaking hydrogen, causing the German pas- senger airship to crash—remains a point of reference for the use of hydrogen in aeromechanics. Since then, the anticlimactic use


of hydrogen in the automotive indus- try also did little to help. Hydrogen was touted as a fuel for the future and rolled out for personal vehicle use at high costs. For Mr Miftakhov, this initial push with personal vehi- cles was “the worst place to start hydrogen adoption, because it is a low-utilisation scenario”. “Hydrogen is great for heavy-


duty, high-utilisation cases,” he explains. “Aircraft is a perfect exam- ple; heavy trucks are also a good example. Even taxis are a good example because you have to refuel


June/July 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com


them quickly.” For Mr Miftakhov, you need to


have the right sequence. “Once you have production, that drives costs down, but don’t start with cars too early because that’swhat happened last time: the government spent a bunch ofmoney and there was no adoption.”


Future of global connectivity Mr Miftakhov has experienced first- hand the havoc wreaked by Covid-19 in global travelling, and in the avia- tion industry in particular. Similar to many people across the world, he hasn’t seen his family in Russia for some time, due to the pandemic—a “painful” situation, he adds. However,when asked if the conscien- tious consumer of the 2020s will usher in an age of reduced air travel, Mr Miftakhov is confident that tech- nology will rise to the challenge and humanity will not regress. “We think it’s about a technologi-


cal solution, and want people to enjoy the connectivity—and there is a way to do it responsibly.Wewill have aviation as amajor contributor to this transition,” he says. “There’s mobility around the


globe and people want to see each other, so I don’t think the right solu- tion is to ‘go back to our caves’. It is better technology that will provide us with the solution, not a reduction in benefits, such as the ease in the ability to travel,” he asserts.■


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