ZURICH — In a move that could reshape the future of aviation, a Swiss aerospace startup has unveiled a groundbreaking hydrogen-powered aircraft that combines the versatility of a helicopter with the speed and range of a small jet.

The SiriusJet, developed by Zurich-based AeroInnovate, is a luxury three-seat aircraft that takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter but cruises at speeds rivaling those of traditional airplanes. What sets it apart, however, is its innovative propulsion system: 28 ducted electric fans powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

“We’re not just building another aircraft; we’re redefining air travel,” said Dr. Elena Müller, CEO of AeroInnovate, at a press conference on Tuesday. “The SiriusJet represents a leap forward in sustainable aviation, offering unparalleled performance with zero emissions.”

The aircraft’s specifications are impressive. With a range of 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers), it far outstrips typical electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, which usually max out at around 250 miles. The SiriusJet can reach a top speed of 323 mph (520 km/h) and soar to altitudes of 30,000 feet, all while maintaining a pressurized cabin for passenger comfort.

Perhaps most striking is the aircraft’s near-silent operation. The 28 ducted fans — 20 along the wings and 8 in the forward canard — produce less than 60 decibels of noise, roughly equivalent to a normal conversation. This feature could make the SiriusJet particularly attractive for urban air mobility, a sector that has faced challenges due to noise concerns.

The use of hydrogen as fuel brings both benefits and challenges. While it allows for quick refueling — a full tank costs around $500 and takes minutes to fill — the current lack of hydrogen infrastructure could limit the aircraft’s initial utility.

Dr. Paul Chen, an aerospace engineer at MIT not involved with the project, called the SiriusJet “a potential game-changer” but cautioned that significant hurdles remain. “The technology is impressive, but we need to see how it performs in real-world conditions, especially regarding safety and reliability,” he said in a phone interview.

AeroInnovate says it has already conducted over 200 test flights and is working closely with aviation authorities to obtain necessary certifications. The company aims to begin deliveries to wealthy early adopters by 2026, with a longer-term goal of making the technology more widely accessible.

The unveiling comes at a time of increased interest in sustainable aviation. With the airline industry under pressure to reduce its carbon footprint, which accounts for about 2.5% of global CO2 emissions, hydrogen-powered aircraft have emerged as a promising solution.

However, skeptics point out that producing hydrogen fuel cells remains energy-intensive and often relies on fossil fuels. AeroInnovate counters that it is partnering with renewable energy providers to ensure its fuel is produced sustainably.

The SiriusJet’s potential extends beyond personal transportation. The company envisions applications in emergency medical services, where its speed and ability to land in confined spaces could save lives, and in cargo delivery to remote areas.

As the aviation industry watches closely, the success or failure of the SiriusJet could signal whether hydrogen power is truly the future of flight or merely a high-flying dream.