Air New Zealand and Airbus have agreed to a cooperation initiative on September 16, 2021, to research the potential and future implementation of hydrogen powered aircraft in New Zealand.

The airline has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus to understand how hydrogen-powered aircraft can assist the airline in reaching its goal of net zero emissions by 2050.  

“This agreement brings us a step closer to our net zero emissions by 2050 commitment, and to realizing our aspiration to put low carbon solutions in place for our shorter domestic and regional flights in the next decade,” said Greg Foran, chief executive office of Air New Zealand.

Under the MoU, the airline plans to analyze the impact of hydrogen aircraft on its network, operations and infrastructure, while Airbus intends to focus on the aircraft’s performance requirements and ground operations characteristics. 

“We’ll be working closely with Airbus to understand opportunities and challenges, including achievable flying range and what ground infrastructure or logistics changes may be required to implement this technology in New Zealand,” said David Morgan, Air New Zealand’s chief operational integrity and safety officer.

Airbus is currently researching three concepts for its hydrogen-powered aircraft, including a turboprop, turbofan and a blended wing design.

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“This agreement with Air New Zealand will provide us with important insights about how we could put a zero-emission aircraft into service,” said Anand Stanley, president of Airbus Asia-Pacific. “The joint study will enable us to gain invaluable feedback on what airlines will expect and their preferences in terms of configuration and performance.”

Air New Zealand operates a fleet of 96 aircraft including, 14 Boeing 787-9s, 20 Airbus A320s, 11 A320/321neos, 28 ATR 72-600s and 23 Q300s.