Air New Zealand and Airbus have agreed to collaborate on a collaborative research initiative aimed at “better understanding the potential and difficulties of operating zero-emission hydrogen aircraft in New Zealand.”
Air New Zealand will investigate the impact of hydrogen aircraft on its network, operations, and infrastructure under the terms of the agreement, while Airbus will “provide hydrogen aircraft performance requirements and ground operations characteristics to support Air New Zealand in developing its decarbonisation roadmap.”
The agreement, according to Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran, “brings us a step closer to fulfilling our goal to put low carbon solutions in place for our shorter domestic and regional flights in the next decade” and “brings us a step closer to our net zero emissions by 2050 promise.”
Both hydrogen and battery electric aircraft were “still on the table as prospective alternatives for our shorter domestic flights,” according to Foran.
Meanwhile, Captain David Morgan, Air New Zealand’s chief operational integrity and safety officer, described the agreement as a chance to participate in the design and description of how a hydrogen-powered aircraft would fit into the carrier’s operations.
“We’ll be working closely with Airbus to better understand the potential and challenges, including as the attainable flying range and any ground infrastructure or logistical modifications that may be necessary to bring this technology to New Zealand,” Morgan said.
Last year, Airbus announced ZEROe, a new initiative aimed at bringing zero-emission commercial aircraft into service by 2035.
The company unveiled three aircraft ideas, all of which use hydrogen as their primary fuel. According to Airbus, hydrogen “has outstanding potential as a clean aviation fuel and is likely to be a solution for aerospace and many other industries to fulfill their climate-neutral objectives.”