LONDON – Last month, Air New Zealand unveiled plans for its ‘Mission Next Gen program’ that endeavours to put the Kiwi national carrier at the forefront of more sustainable air travel.
In its mission objectives, it sets out 2026 as the year it plans to take to the skies in a zero emissions aircraft for either a cargo or passenger flight.
“Getting a zero emissions aircraft off the ground by 2026 is going to be challenging. But we’re incredibly ambitious – because we need to be” – Air New Zealand CEO, Greg Foran.
Co-piloting this journey into sustainable flight will be five partners, all working towards developing the technology and infrastructure needed to make Mission Next Gen a success.
Part of the agreement to these partnerships includes ANZ signing a letter of intent to purchase up to 23 all electric aircraft from one of the partners.
Four prospective aircraft suppliers
Air New Zealand confirmed to AviationSource that it is in negotiations with four ‘next generation’ aircraft developers.
The airline has signed a letter of intent with all four aircraft developers to purchase 3 with options for 20 additional. Over the next 12 months Air New Zealand will work closely with the four partners and will likely confirm an order for up to three aircraft from one or more developers.
The airline says that the decision will depend upon where the technology is at, and what will help drive the zero emissions ecosystem forward.
US based all electric aircraft manufacturer Eviation, currently has over $2 billion worth of orders for its flagship jet, the Alice. Produced from 95% composite materials, it holds a capacity of 9 passengers and 2 crew. Powered by 2 magniX 650 Electric Power Units and has a maximum range of 288 miles.
Cranfield Aerospace is the only British company to be selected amongst ANZ’s partners, and will lead the charge for research and development on converting a Britten Norman Islander. A 9-seat conventionally fuelled aircraft, into a zero emissions jet that will be powered by gaseous hydrogen propulsion. As part of this multi phase program, Cranfield also has irons in the fire on producing a larger sustainable aircraft that could seat up to 75 people.
Chief executive Officer for Cranfield Aerospace, Paul Hutton said this upon joining forces with the airline: “We are extremely proud to have been selected by Air New Zealand as a Mission Next Gen partner.”
“The airline is renowned in the industry for being a powerhouse in sustainability and given CAeS’s ambition to design and manufacture zero emissions green hydrogen fuelled aircraft, our collective ambitions couldn’t be more aligned.”
“We look forward to working with the Air New Zealand team to bring zero emissions flight to their domestic network and help pave the way for the next revolution in aviation.”
French company VoltAero are producing the Cassio line of electric hybrid aircraft. The 330, 480 and 600 are the models on offer, the model number representing the propulsion power in kilowatts. As the propulsion power increases so does passenger capacity.
The Cassio range has the ability to hold between 5 and 12 passengers and a range of 800 miles. VoltAero forecasts that it will be producing 150 aircraft a year out of its final assembly line in southwest France when operating at its full rate.
BETA technologies are a US firm that have been developing the ALIA aircraft for the last 3 years. It has worked in partnership with the US Air Force on its Agility Prime program, a program that has supported commercial investment in the research of technologies for electric Vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL).
In doing so the ALIA has been the first manned electric aircraft to receive military airworthiness from the Air Force for eVTOL. BETA’s ALIA plans to specialise its testing in cargo and logistics missions and as such, already has millions of dollars worth of orders.
Medical firms looking to utilise the aircraft for onsite organ delivery, and logistics giant UPS has indicated at an order of 150 of the aircraft. The ALIA has a range of 288 miles on a single charge and will be able to carry up to six people.
“Air New Zealand is stepping up and we will be right here with them to make it a reality,” says Kyle Clark, BETA’s CEO and Founder.
Green hydrogen source
ANZ has also signed a strategic alliance agreement with Hiringa Energy, a green hydrogen supply and refuelling infrastructure company. Having world leading sustainable aircraft will matter little, if the infrastructure is not in place to support it.
Hiringa makes, moves, stores and sells green hydrogen for use in the transport and energy sectors. 2023 is planned to be the year that they unveil New Zealand’s first hydrogen refuelling network, with 4 sites currently under construction across the country.
CEO for Hiringa Energy Andrew Clennett said that this agreement will be key to accelerating the development of hydrogen as a sustainable and renewable fuel for both the airline and the country.
He stated: “Kiwis will be excited Air New Zealand is taking a lead in identifying zero emissions aircraft and backing local companies like Hiringa Energy to help overcome the challenges of providing green hydrogen to power them.”
To coincide with the announcement of its NextGen Mission, Air New Zealand signed a Letter of Intent to purchase up to 23 all-electric domestic jets from the prospective suppliers. You can read the initial AviationSource article here.