DALLAS – Air New Zealand (NZ) has announced its latest plan to achieve its goal of flying zero-emissions aircraft.
The carrier has launched a program called ‘Mission Next Generation Aircraft’ with the aim of operating its first commercial demonstrator flight in 2026. NZ plans to replace its De Havilland Dash-8 Q300 fleet with a more sustainable aircraft powered by hydrogen or battery-hybrid by 2030.
In December 2021, NZ released a Product Requirements Document (PRD), asking aviation manufacturers to help with its goal of becoming a net zero carrier by 2050. More than 30 aircraft developers came forward, and the airline is now in “close negotiations” with a letter of intent expected to be signed with new partners by the end of the year.
Following the issue of the PRD, NZ Head of Fleet Strategy Baden Smith said that the country “is uniquely placed to lead the world in zero emissions aircraft and low carbon alternatives on our domestic air transport network.”
Indeed, New Zealand is well suited to develop zero-emissions aircraft owing to its pre-existing sustainable power infrastructure. NZ’s regional network is also ideal for trialling the airframes due to its short-range routes.
“We want to lead the roll-out of zero-emission aircraft and will work alongside aircraft developers, innovators and infrastructure providers to give them the confidence they’re developing a product that’s a viable option for us,” Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said.
“The next three years will be focused on supporting the building, testing and certifying of aircraft and associated infrastructure. By 2026, we’re aiming to have our first zero emissions aircraft – either cargo or passenger – take flight in New Zealand.”
Foran said that the demonstrator flights will provide lessons to “pave the way for our long-term green hydrogen and hybrid partners to deliver an aircraft that can replace our Q300 domestic fleet.”
“We’re breaking new ground here – it’s not just the aircraft that needs to be developed, but also the infrastructure and regulation required to fly commercially,” he added.
Featured Image: NZ believes that its regional network is well suited to trial zero-emissions aircraft. Photo: Daniel Gorun/Airways
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