A Zero Emissions Aircraft for Air New Zealand

And Air New Zealand Q300 banks away in flight.
XPinger (Chris Sutton) from Rotorua, New Zealand, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – On 4 November, Air New Zealand proudly announced the Mission Next Generation Aircraft as part of a greater accelerator programme to champion the two ambitious goals. Those are: To fly its first commercial emission-free demonstrator flight from 2026 and to replace its ageing gas-guzzling Q300 regional fleet.

This is anyhow seen as inevitable. Air New Zealand is on the path to committing to reducing its regional fleet by replacing it with green hydrogen or battery hybrid systems en-masse from the year 2030 and onwards. Moreover, these ambitious plans are in line with the airline’s Product Requirement Document or abbreviated: PRD released in December 2021.

As a response to this, many zero-emissions aircraft manufacturers, and as many as 30 aircraft developers have chipped in their proposals and offers. Air New Zealand is, as we speak, reviewing letters of intent by the end of this calendar year to finalise which partners they will work with. 

Air New Zealand as a leading airline

Greg Foran, Chief Executive Officer, stated that Air New Zealand plans to become one of the leading airlines in championing a more sustainable fleet. 

Mr. Foran stated that:  “We have bold sustainability goals. Conventional business processes are not going to address the technology or infrastructure required to meet them. We want to lead the rollout 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.”

He ventured: “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.”

“The learnings we will take from flying an aircraft with next-generation propulsion technology from 2026 will 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.”

“We know these goals are ambitious, but ambition is exactly what is required to make this new technology a reality.”

This so-called PRD commitment or process echoes the government of New Zealand, its societies and businesses in making the country greener while championing aviation growth in the country.  

Flying in New Zealand will become greener

The airline CEO explained: “We mainly operate short-range routes up and down the country, and New Zealand is largely built on renewable electricity generation – it’s an ideal landscape to adopt zero-emission aircraft. But we can’t do it alone. It will take the minds of many within the industry to find the right solution.”

“The technology is getting there, it just needs to be developed to a scale we can roll out across our network. It’s a wicked problem to solve but we’re two feet in.”

Looking forward

It is obvious that there are many players in the industry who want to ‘decarbonise’ their operational footprint, but it looks like Air New Zealand is making significant process in the southern hemisphere along with Australia and Brazil. The airline’s goal goes hand-in-hand with 2050, Sustainable Aviation Fuel usage initiative in the near future.

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