JetBlue’s venture capital subsidy, JetBlue Technology Ventures, is investing in a Los Angeles-based startup working on technology to enable hydrogen fuel cell-fueled aircraft.
The company, Universal Hydrogen, is building a distribution network to store and transport hydrogen fuel for the aviation industry as well as conversion kits that could retrofit existing small regional aircraft to be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The company said the first commercial flights are planned no later than 2025.
“We see the near-term decarbonization of regional aviation as a first step and catalyst, setting the whole industry on a path to meeting Paris Agreement emissions targets,” Universal Hydrogen cofounder and CEO Paul Eremenko said in a statement. “Hydrogen is today the only viable fuel for getting to true zero emissions in commercial aviation, and our goal is to de-risk the decision for Airbus, Boeing, and [Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China] to make their next new airplane in the 2030s a hydrogen-powered one.”
JetBlue did not disclose the amount of the investment, but it was a part of a $20.5 million funding round in which Airbus and Toyota also participated. Airbus is working on its own concepts for hydrogen-fueled aircraft, with a target of being ready for commercial service by 2035.