Surcar Chooses ZeroAvia Engines for the Twin Otter

Spanish startup Surcar Airlines will power its future De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter fleet with ZeroAvia engines.



August 2, 2023

DALLAS — One of Spain's latest startup carriers, Surcar Airlines, has announced that it will power its future De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter fleet with ZeroAvia engines to operate 100% carbon-free flights between the Canary Islands in the coming years.

Surcar is expected to start seaplane operations soon in the archipelago and will initially fly with conventionally powered Twin Otters, though it aims to switch to hydrogen-electric ZA600 engines as soon as these achieve final certification. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is already in place between ZeroAvia and DHC to implement the sustainable flight project.

Gerardo Morales-Hierro, founder and CEO of Surcar Airlines, said, "Millions visit each year to see the incredible natural beauty and world heritage sites here in the Canary Islands. Climate change threatens this and our way of life. Working with ZeroAvia will help us to deliver cleaner flights, while also fostering positive impacts on the local community and the environment."

The certification process of the brand-new ZA600 powerplant is going on at the moment of writing, having ZeroAvia recently completed 10 test flights of prototype units for the Dornier Do-228 airplane in Kemble, UK.

These engines use hydrogen in fuel cells to generate electricity, which is then used to turn the aircraft's propellers, completely forgetting about carbon emissions and switching to water vapor instead.

Flying by seaplane has been common to see in many places worldwide, but not in the Canary Islands until recently. Photo: Surcar Airlines.

Airlines Flying in the Canary Islands

The Canary Archipelago is a group of islands located off the western coast of Africa, at the level of Western Sahara, which politically belongs to the Kingdom of Spain. This region, despite being more than 1.000km away from the Iberian Peninsula, is one of the most important provinces of the country, and currently the 8th largest economy in Spain.

While tourism is, by far, the largest source of income for each and every one of the seven islands, mobility inside the region is crucial for the development of this autonomous community. Separated by water, flying has been for almost a century the quickest and most efficient method of transportation.

With 5 and 31 total aircraft in their fleets respectively, CanaryFly (PM) and Binter Canarias (NT) are the two only and largest airlines that regularly connect all airports in the proximities, mainly using versatile and capable ATR 72 airframes, especially to be able to land at challenging airports such as La Palma (SPC) or Tenerife-Norte (TFN).

Landing of the Nordic Seaplanes Twin Otter on one of the Surcar presentation flights in La Palma. Video: Javier Ortega Figueiral.

A New "Sailor" in the Air Commuter Market

In Spanish, "surcar" means to sail. Following the great success of seaplane airlines in different archipelago regions around the world, this method of transportation has been considered for the Canary Islands as an alternative to conventional air commuting services, led mainly by Binter (NT) for decades.

Surcar Airlines, with its upcoming De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter seaplanes, is expected to become the next competition to NT in domestic Canarian aviation, as it will start offering quick flights between the islands, taking off from the main ports of each, which are located much closer to the cities.

The airline aims to break into the market by offering closer and more convenient itineraries just a short walk from most passengers' houses to the seaport.

Supported by the Danish carrier Nordic Seaplanes, Surcar Airlines has already performed separate test flights with Twin Otter aircraft. Are you excited to see this new operator lift off the sea?

Featured image: ZeroAvia