Air New Zealand announce hydrogen-powered aircraft research

The airline will partner with Airbus to discover how these aircraft could help the carrier reach its net zero emissions target by 2050

Air New Zealand and Airbus have announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate on a joint research project to better understand the benefits and challenges of flying zero-emissions aircraft in the country.

The national carrier is set to analyse the impact operating hydrogen aircraft may have on its network, operations and infrastructure. Additionally, Airbus plan to provide performance requirements, such as achievable flying range, as well as guiding ground operation characteristics to support the airline.

Photo Airbus

According to the carrier, both hydrogen and battery powered electric aircraft are on the table as potential options for shorter domestic and regional flights, while sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) are being investigated for long haul operations.   

Greg Foran, CEO of Air New Zealand, said: “This agreement brings us a step closer to realising our aspiration to put low carbon solutions in place for our shorter domestic and regional flights in the next decade. New Zealand has a unique opportunity to be a world leader in the adoption of zero emissions aircraft, given the country's commitment to renewable energy which can be used to generate green hydrogen and our highly connected regional air network.”

Anand Stanley, president Airbus Asia-Pacific, added: “The company chose to work with Air New Zealand because of its commitment to sustainability, reputation for technical excellence and alignment with the manufacturer's own decarbonisation goals. This agreement will provide us with important insights about how we could put a zero-emission aircraft into service, [enabling] us to gain invaluable feedback on what airlines will expect and their preferences in terms of configuration and performance.”

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