Air New Zealand adds Mission Next Gen Aircraft partners

Universal Hydrogen Module Loading Asian Aviation
(PHOTO: Via Air New Zealand)

Universal Hydrogen, Embraer and Heart Aerospace join Airbus and ATR as the long-term partners Air New Zealand is currently working with on its mission to replace its Q300 domestic fleet with a more sustainable option from 2030. These partners will work alongside Air New Zealand to accelerate the development and introduction of zero emissions aircraft technology for regional fleet in New Zealand.

Air New Zealand Chief Sustainability Officer Kiri Hannifin says working with the world’s leading innovators is critical to addressing the climate crisis. “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. Adding Universal Hydrogen, Embraer and Heart Aerospace will broaden our knowledge of the technologies being developed for potential future aircraft. This isn’t about selecting a new aircraft. It’s about growing our collective understanding to advance a new era of travel. These partners were selected because they are taking action now to progress decarbonising the aviation industry,” says Hannifin.

(IMAGE: Heart Aerospace)

Air New Zealand’s long-term partners are developing green hydrogen and battery-hybrid aircraft with between 30 and 200 seats. Air New Zealand has also teamed up with Victoria University of Wellington’s Robinson Research Institute to help the airline evaluate and validate aircraft propulsion technology as concepts develop and mature. The research institution is a world-leader in developing power electronics and superconducting machines and is currently working on their application to the aviation industry.

“Air New Zealand will work with Paihau – Robinson Research Institute to ensure new aircraft technology can be integrated into New Zealand’s future air transport system,” says  Hannifin.

While zero emissions aircraft technology will help decarbonise the airline’s domestic network over the period to 2050, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is critical in the near term, particularly for the long-haul fleet.

SAF is a ‘drop in’ fuel which when combined with jet fuel can power the airline’s current aircraft. This can reduce emissions for long haul travel and domestic flights while the airline continues to operate conventional aircraft. The inputs and processes used to make SAF result in lower lifecycle emissions than fossil jet, with the opportunity to generate significant CO2 savings.

“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,” said Karine Guenan, Airbus Head of Zero Emission Ecosystem.”

“ATR fully shares Air New Zealand’s ambition to accelerate the transition towards net-zero carbon emissions. Having worked together since 2018 to explore new propulsion technologies and their impact on operations and infrastructure, we are now taking this partnership to the next level. With Mission NextGen, we will be supporting Air New Zealand in every step of this challenging adventure in investigating disruptive innovations to turn our commitments into tangible reality,” says Nathalie Tarnaud Laude, ATR’s Chief Executive Officer.

(IMAGE: Embraer)

“As the global leader in regional aircraft, Embraer is ideally positioned to bring disruptive technologies to smaller aircraft first. Air New Zealand, operator of a large, complex, and diverse regional network, is the perfect collaborator and we’re proud to be a part of this initiative,” said Arjan Meijer, President and CEO, Embraer Commercial Aviation. “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.”

“Air New Zealand is truly leading the way with its efforts to reduce emissions from air travel, and we are impressed by the diligence with which they approach this challenge. We could not be prouder to have been selected as a long-term strategic partner on their journey towards net zero. At Heart Aerospace we say the real innovation is getting it done, and together we will,” said Anders Forslund, co-founder, and CEO of Heart Aerospace.

“We are pleased that Air New Zealand, one of the largest turboprop fleet operators in the world, has endorsed our hydrogen retrofit solution and infrastructure-light modular fuel delivery system. Air New Zealand is a leader and trendsetter in adopting true-zero-emissions technology for aviation and this strategic agreement cements that. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration that will help launch a new golden age of aviation.” – Paul Eremenko, co-founder and CEO, Universal Hydrogen.

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