Air New Zealand forms team to develop next generation sustainable aircraft

Petr Sommer Photography /

Air New Zealand has named its partners in developing next generation aircraft for the future to replace its domestic fleet with a more sustainable option from 2030.

The airline’s program, called ‘Mission Next Gen Aircraft’, is composed of airlines, lessors, manufacturers, and other aviation experts: Airbus, ATR, Universal Hydrogen, Embraer, Heart Aerospace, and Victoria University of Wellington’s Robinson Research Institute.

“Through our partnerships with Airbus and ATR, we’ve been able to deepen our understanding of the impact green hydrogen and battery hybrid aircraft may have on our network, operations and infrastructure, as well as the opportunities and challenges of flying low and zero emissions aircraft in New Zealand,” Air New Zealand chief sustainability officer Kiri Hannifin said.

“Adding Universal Hydrogen, Embraer and Heart Aerospace will broaden our knowledge of the technologies being developed for potential future aircraft,” Hannifin added. 

Air NZ also said that the partners were chosen due to their current action to decarbonise the aviation industry. The long-term partners are developing green hydrogen and battery-hybrid aircraft with 30 and 200 seats.

The airline has also partnered with Paihau – Robinson Research Institute to ensure new aircraft technology can be integrated into New Zealand’s future air transport system.

Statements from a number of Air NZ’s partners include:

“Air New Zealand and Airbus share common goals on the journey towards the decarbonisation of the aviation sector. Under our existing agreement, we have already determined that New Zealand offers an ideal test environment to develop the ecosystems necessary to support hydrogen-powered aircraft operations. The next phase will go into more detail on potential aircraft design and performance that would meet Air New Zealand’s requirements, building upon the long-standing partnership we have together,” – Karine Guenan, Airbus head of zero emission ecosystem.”

“Smaller, regional aircraft are going to be the first platforms on which new fuel and propulsion systems can be introduced effectively. Embraer looks forward to contributing to Air New Zealand’s initiative and adding their expertise and requirements into Embraer’s Energia project.” – Arjan Meijer, president and CEO, Embraer Commercial Aviation.

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