In four years at the latest, Air New Zealand will start zero-emission demonstration flights. The aircraft will use electricity, sustainable hydrogen or hybrid technologies. This has been announced by Air New Zealand.
As part of that programme, a collaboration has started with four aircraft manufacturers – Eviation, Beta, VoltAero and Cranfield Aerospace. The airline also signs a letter of intent to order a fleet of twenty-three aircraft from one or more partners.
Why is this important?The global aviation industry aims to operate climate neutral by the middle of this century. To do this, however, the sector must be able to deploy zero-emission aircraft. A large number of parties are currently looking for solutions that are best suited for this. Meanwhile, the development of sustainable petroleum can help reduce the ecological footprint of the aviation industry.
wmainly regional routes offer options: Air New Zealand currently operates a fleet of almost 100 aircraft.
- For long-distance flights, aircraft from the major aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus are used.
- On the domestic routes, however, turboprop aircraft from ATR and Bombardier are used. According to the company, electric planes can offer the fastest alternative, especially on these domestic destinations.
- It is pointed out that every day Air New Zealand organizes more than four hundred flights to twenty destinations in its own country. This indicates how many emissions could be avoided on a daily basis if electric aircraft could be used on all these routes.
Alternative to decarbonisation trips: One of the planes that could be used is the Alice, a commuter plane being built by constructor Eviation.
- Alice flies with two crew members and can transport nine passengers to destinations over distances of approximately 450 kilometers.
- “This makes Alice perfect for getting around New Zealand,” notes Gregory Davis, CEO of Eviation.
- “For every hour of flight time, the device needs about thirty minutes to charge. This means that the aircraft can be used intensively on regional routes. The operating costs per hour are also significantly lower with Alice than with the turboprops.”
- “Regional flights represent a significant part of Air New Zealand’s overall offering,” Davis said. “Many regional flights take less than an hour. Here, Alice can offer an efficient alternative to decarbonise these journeys and thereby start a revolution in air transport.”
Interest from large companies is an important signal: Alice made her maiden flight in Washington state in September of this year.
- Eviation has already received orders for the device from various companies – such as Cape Air, Deutsche Post and GlobalX.
- But according to Davis, it is significant that with companies such as Air New Zealand, national airlines are also beginning to show interest in this type of aircraft.
- According to Aviation’s managing director, it is a clear signal that the sector is aware that emission-free aviation is the solution of the future.
Air New Zealand also recently started a collaboration with the company Hiringa Energy to gain a better understanding of the strategies that should be used to deploy sustainable hydrogen aircraft. There is also collaboration with Airbus on this type of technology.