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Surcar Partners with ZeroAvia

Spanish Startup Aspires to Operate Hydrogen-Electric Seaplanes

ZeroAvia, the British/American hydrogen-electric aircraft developer, has announced its ZA600 hydrogen-electric powertrain has been selected by Spanish air-carrier startup Surcar to power its fleet of amphibious, De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft.

An inchoate Spanish airline, Surcar intends to operate its seaplanes solely within the Canary Islands—a volcanic archipelago some 55-nautical-miles off the Atlantic shores of the northwestern African nations of Morocco and Western Sahara.

The Canaries are an autonomous community of Spain comprising seven major islands: Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro. Surcar plans to serve some 15,000 passengers annually via sub-thirty-minute routes connecting the islands’ main cities—primarily: Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Santa Cruz de La Palma, and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Surcar’s investors include the local governments of the Canary Islands and the Danish air-carrier Nordic Seaplanes.

Worldwide, seaplanes have proved invaluable in connecting communities throughout maritime locales the likes of Copenhagen, Denmark; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Seattle, Washington; Key West, Florida; the Hawaiian Islands, Anchorage, Alaska, and Indonesia.

While Surcar is yet to officially launch passenger-carrying operations, the company undertook a number of 2022 test-flights utilizing a DHC-6 provided by Nordic Seaplanes.

Surcar intends to commence commercial operations with OEM-correct, turboprop-powered Twin Otters, eventually retrofitting such with ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric propulsion scheme—an architecture comprising fuel-cells capable of generating electricity from compressed, liquid-hydrogen fuel. The electricity subsequently powers electric motors which, in turn, impart rotation to the host aircraft’s propellers, thereby generating thrust.

Currently, ZeroAvia is entering the second phase of its prototype flight-testing campaign in preparation for the planned 2025 certification of its 804-horsepower (600-kilowatt) ZA600 powertrain.

Moreover, ZeroAvia is about the business of developing silicon-carbide power electronics and matching hydrogen fuel-cells by which hydrogen will be more efficiently converted into the electricity upon which future electric aero-propulsion systems will operate.

Surcar aspires to bring cohesion to the Canary Islands by reinstating seaplane services—a regional staple in the 1950s. The airline will cater, initially, to a niche business-traveler demographic on weekdays, and to tourists on weekends. Surcar’s business model is predicated, in part, upon the business-traveler’s willingness to pay a premium for alacrity and efficiency. Its coffers swelled with business-travel revenues, the airline will offer economy weekend fares to tourists in the hope of gaining popularity and market share.



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