Air New Zealand challenges industry to produce zero emissions plane

December 21, 2021
Air New Zealand
Photo: AIr New Zealand.

Air New Zealand wants to get a zero-emissions aircraft in the air in the next five years and is calling on traditional aviation manufacturers as well as entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world to help achieve its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The airline has released a Product Requirements Document (PRD) – a guide for businesses and innovators to help build, launch, or market the provision of zero-emissions/novel propulsion aircraft in New Zealand.

The PRD is a fascinating read and provides an overview of Air New Zealand’s requirements based on its network and fleet and is intended to kickstart discussion for ongoing collaboration.

Air New Zealand says it is looking for aircraft technology ideas on how to accelerate and deploy propulsion innovations such as hybrid, hydrogen, or electric technologies for its new aircraft.

In the first instance, the airline is calling for an aircraft that can seat up to nine passengers but within a few years of that up to 50. It is also suggesting a refit of existing turboprops within its fleet with a new propulsion source.

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Air New Zealand’s Head of Fleet Strategy Baden Smith says the airline is taking bold steps to ramp up genuine climate action and is looking for innovative organizations that can help us on our zero emissions aircraft journey.

“As we work towards our net-zero 2050 goal, reducing aircraft emissions is critical. While our industry faces a steep challenge to decarbonize, New Zealand is uniquely placed to lead the world in zero emissions aircraft and low carbon alternatives on our domestic air transport network.

“We believe New Zealand could be a world leader in zero or low emissions aircraft, whether that’s battery-electric or green hydrogen-powered. We’re seeking the best ideas and technology from innovators around the globe who might be prepared to work with us.

“New Zealand is ideally suited to adopt zero-emissions aircraft, as we have a number of short-range routes that are perfect candidates for utilizing these new technologies, and our renewable energy sources make it possible to eliminate carbon emissions effectively.”

“This Product Requirements Document allows us to share our vision for zero-emissions aircraft deployment and allows current and future aircraft developers to recognize both the opportunity here in New Zealand and Air New Zealand’s ambition to make this a reality as soon as possible.”

This challenge is the latest step in Air New Zealand’s journey to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, after signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the New Zealand Government on Sustainable Aviation Fuel and with Airbus and ATR on the development of low emissions aircraft.