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Air New Zealand on a mission for sustainability

Air New Zealand on a Mission for sustainability. New Zealand’s national carrier has teamed up with leading aircraft manufacturers to accelerate sustainable technology development and create the aircraft of the future. This is a project that will help create more sustainable and environmentally friendly aviation.

Mission Next Gen Aircraft

This is a programme developed by Air New Zealand to accelerate the development of new technologies that will allow the creation of aircraft that are 100% environmentally friendly and create all the infrastructure that allows it to be a reality for commercial aviation.

This very ambitious mission plans to get the first commercial demonstrator flight on air by 2026 and start replacing their Bombardier Q3000 fleet with more sustainable aircraft powered either by green hydrogen or battery hybrid systems by 2030. Air New Zealand released a Product Requirements Document in 2021 and after that, more than 30 aircraft developers responded to the call and showed their ideas and insights to start this major technological development.  Some of these partners were major aircraft manufacturers like Airbus and ATR.

Now more partners join in

Early February this year, the airline announced it in a press release. Air New Zealand’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Kiri Hannifin, said in the press release that this work is critical in the fight against climate change.

Each company had a role in this project and Mr Hannifin said that the partnership with ATR and Airbus helped to understand the impact that green hydrogen and battery hybrid could have on the airline’s network, operations and infrastructure. This also helped to see the opportunities and also challenges posed by flying low-emissions or even zero-emissions aircraft.

The new partners Embraer and Heart Aerospace will help broaden this knowledge in order to achieve the desired outcome. The airline has also teamed up with Victoria University of Wellington’s Robinson Research Institute to help understand, evaluate and validate the aircraft propulsion technology as long as these concepts are developed and matured.

The press release also says that this is not a simple change of fleet for the airline, Mr. Hannifin said this was a project to grow a collective understanding and advance to the future of aviation and travel. He added that these partners were chosen because they are taking action towards the decarbonisation of aviation.

In the short term

Although this project and these new technologies will help us move towards greener aviation in the long run, the fact is that the industry needs a solution in the short term. The article says that SAF will be the key, especially for long-haul flights. SAF can be used to help reduce emissions while the airline is still using conventional aircraft and it is also a step towards the future.