4 Nov 2022

Air NZ aims for first zero emissions aircraft to take flight by 2026

2:56 pm on 4 November 2022
A photo taken on June 27, 2022 shows passengers looking at an Air New Zealand planes as they wait for their flight at Wellington Airport. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

Air New Zealand launches accelerator programme with an aim of flying its first commercial demonstrator flight from 2026. Photo: AFP

Air New Zealand has announced a fresh plan to achieve its goal of flying zero emissions aircraft.

The airline has launched an accelerator programme called Mission Next Generation Aircraft, with the aim of flying its first commercial demonstrator flight from 2026.

It also targeted replacing its Bombardier Q300 turboprop fleet with a more sustainable aircraft, likely green hydrogen or battery hybrid from 2030.

It comes after the airline put out a call to aviation manufacturers last year to help its goal of becoming a net zero emissions company by 2050.

Air New Zealand said more than 30 aircraft developers responded with ideas and the airline was in "close negotiations", with expectations to sign letters of intent with partners by the end of the year.

"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," chief executive 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 the lessons from flying a next generation aircraft from 2026 would pave the way for its long-term green hydrogen and hybrid partners, to deliver an aircraft to replace the Q300 fleet.

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

The airline also highlighted the importance of sustainable aviation fuel in its decarbonisation plan.

Last year, Air New Zealand announced a joint initiative with the world's biggest aircraft manufacturer Airbus to research how hydrogen powered planes could help the airline's decarbonisation goals.

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