This Airline Aims to Fly People Around in a Hydrogen-Propelled Plane as Soon as 2025

Harri Weber

Harri is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. She previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find her on Twitter and send tips on L.A. startups and venture capital to harrison@dot.la.

This Airline Aims to Fly People Around in a Hydrogen-Propelled Plane as Soon as 2025

Connect Airlines hopes to start flying passengers around in a hydrogen-powered plane as soon as 2025, thanks to a deal announced this week with Hawthorne-based Universal Hydrogen.

The Boston-based airline has yet to launch, but it intends to kick off regular service between Toronto, the Northeast and the Midwest starting this spring — for now using jet fuel. Connect Airlines is one of several to sign a letter of intent to buy hydrogen conversion kits in the coming years from Universal Hydrogen, joining Icelandair, Air Nostrum (in Spain), and Ravn Alaska.


Universal Hydrogen plans to begin installations of its hydrogen-electric powertrain kits in the next three to four years, pending regulatory approval. The startup is designing its kits for planes that would otherwise guzzle down jet fuel.

Connect Airlines aims to launch hydrogen-propelled flights within the year, the company told dot.LA. So far, Universal Hydrogen’s other partners have offered few specifics on their launch plans.

As the aviation industry looks for ways to slash its carbon footprint, hydrogen has emerged as a top contender to supplant jet fuel. Hydrogen is clean-burning and vastly lighter than batteries, potentially making it ideal for air travel. Hydrogen has downsides, too. It’s more expensive than jet fuel today, and clean hydrogen produced via renewable energy is relatively scarce.

All told, it could be decades before hydrogen-powered planes go mainstream.

Airbus aims to deliver a hydrogen plane by 2035, while Boeing is looking out as far as 2050 for larger aircraft. The Aerospace Technology Institute, a U.K. research group, recently said it expects to see hydrogen planes in the mid-2030s.

Universal Hydrogen is an early mover, but it isn’t the only one.

U.K. and Hollister, Calif.-based ZeroAvia is also working with airlines to launch hydrogen-powered passenger flights, starting with London and Rotterdam as soon as 2024.

In addition to making the kits, Universal Hydrogen says it will also supply airlines with green hydrogen fuel. It raised $62 million in October to move ahead with its plans, which include test flights beginning next year.

Connect Airlines’ owner and a number of others participated in the funding round, including Mitsubishi HC Capital, Tencent, Marc Benioff's TIME Ventures and Spencer Rascoff's 75 and Sunny Ventures. (Full disclosure: Rascoff is the founder and executive chairman of dot.LA.)

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Cadence

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

Read moreShow less

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

Read moreShow less

This Week in ‘Raises’: Triller Grabs $310M, GordonMD Lands $83M

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

This Week in ‘Raises’: Triller Grabs $310M, GordonMD Lands $83M
Modified by Joshua Letona

Los Angeles-based social video app Triller received an equity capital infusion to aid its plans to go public, while West Hollywood-based AmazeVR received fresh funding to further expand its VR concert experience.

Read moreShow less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
LA TECH JOBS
interchangeLA
Trending