Episode 120 - Paving the Way for Zero-Emission Aviation

Hydrogen fuel cell power is ready for takeoff.

Imagine an aircraft without exhaust; the only emission is water. That’s what hydrogen fuel cell technology can do. From regional trips today to long-distance flights in the future, ZeroAvia is enabling scalable, sustainable aviation by retrofitting conventional engines with hydrogen-electric powertrains.

As the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, the aviation industry is primed for change. Hydrogen-electric propulsion is the best way to scale sustainable aviation for commercial use as it offers longer flight range, lower maintenance costs, zero emissions and lower fuel costs. Fueled by recent partnerships with United Airlines and Alaska Air, ZeroAvia is pioneering the transition to clean aviation.

Hear from James McMicking, Vice President of Strategy at ZeroAvia, on why the future of flight will be powered by hydrogen and how his company is developing robust standards alongside operators, airframers and infrastructure partners.

As we look to the future of aviation, the evolution of standards related to hydrogen fuel cell power will play a key role in accelerating its adoption. If you’d like to get involved, please contact us at podcast@sae.org.

Meet Our Guest

Vice President of Strategy, ZeroAvia

James' 20+ year career combines strategy and engineering across multiple sectors, notably automotive and aerospace. Following his Master’s degree in Engineering, he joined engineering consultancy Ricardo as a drivetrain engineer and went on to manage R&D projects for automotive clients around the world. Following a dual degree MBA at the Kellogg School of Management, James moved sectors to join management consultancy Booz & Company where he worked on and led a variety of strategy and operations projects for clients across aviation, defense, pharmaceuticals, distribution, and finance.

It was from Booz that James joined the Aerospace Technology Institute as Chief Strategy Officer and one of its founding executives to set up the organization in 2014. In 2018 James' role expanded to include responsibility for all business operations. As CSO, James oversaw development of several strategic initiatives including the world's first dedicated commercial aerospace startup accelerator and project FlyZero, a one-year strategic research project to understand the technical and commercial potential of zero-carbon emissions technologies for aviation. In 2021 James was awarded a commendation by the Air League for his contributions to the UK aerospace industry.

Our Host


Innovation Strategist & Co-Founder, Brulte & Company

Grayson Brulte is an autonomous mobility advisor and consultant who provides strategic counsel and political insights to help clients navigate what’s next.

As an SAE strategic partner since 2017, Grayson brings his in-depth industry knowledge to host SAE Tomorrow Today. His unique perspective factors in economics, politics and technology into one-of-kind weekly conversations with innovators changing mobility and its impact on society.

Grayson is a thought-leader who regularly provides insights to publications including Bloomberg, Reuters, The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter and Forbes. His written opinions and insights have been featured by organizations including the Consumer Technology Association in presentations to the Federal Trade Commission.

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