While still working to secure operating permission, upstart Connect Airlines sees a lower carbon operation very soon in its future. The company, part of the Waltzing Matilda Aviation group, signed a letter of intent with Universal Hydrogen to convert a dozen Dash 8-300 turboprops to hydrogen fuel cell powertrains. Installation is targeted for 2025.
The US is a laggard in its decarbonization efforts, and the US aviation industry is no exception. That is why the bold step that Connect Airlines is making in being the first airline to commit to true zero-emissions operation in the relatively near term is so monumentally important.– Paul Eremenko, co-founder and CEO of Universal Hydrogen
Connect Airlines already calls its planned prop service between Toronto’s downtown Billy Bishop airport and American Airlines gateways in the northern US a “GreenJet” service. That’s based on the approximately 35% reduction in emissions relative to similarly sized regional jets.
Transitioning to the Universal Hydrogen fuel cell system, however, is really where the emissions disappear.
Further addressing one of the concerns about hydrogen as a power source, Universal Hydrogen and Connect agreed on a long term “green hydrogen” fuel supply contract.
Of note, Connect’s first two aircraft are Dash 8 Q400s, not the –300 model the conversion kit order specifies. A company official confirms to PaxEx.Aero an “expectation that the [hydrogen] technology will support the Dash 8-300 first before advancing to support larger planes. It is expected that we would be using both aircraft types during the transition.”
As with many similar deals announced in recent months, this one comes with a bit of extra financial integration among the companies. Waltzing Matilda CEO John Thomas confirms that the company chose to participate in Universal Hydrogen’s most recent $62 million financing round.
Connect only has two Dash 8 planes in the fleet today, but plans significant growth in the years ahead. It is still working through the final phases of approval from US regulators to launch its transborder service.
In addition to the dozen Dash 8 models, Connect and Universal Hydrogen also agreed on options for an additional twelve kits “of additional aircraft types.”
More Connect Airlines history:
- Connect Airlines to launch as Porter clone
- Additional details as Connect Airlines pushes for October launch
- Some details on Connect Airlines’ operating costs
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