Air New Zealand and aircraft manufacturer Airbus have announced a joint initiative to research how hydrogen-powered aircraft could be part of their fleet by 2030.
In a first for the Asia-Pacific region, the two organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate on a joint research project to better understand the opportunities and challenges of flying zero-emission hydrogen aircraft in New Zealand.
Under the MoU, Air New Zealand will analyse the impact hydrogen aircraft may have on its network, operations and infrastructure, while Airbus will provide hydrogen aircraft performance requirements and ground operations characteristics to support Air New Zealand to develop its decarbonisation roadmap.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran says the MoU is an exciting step towards understanding how hydrogen-powered aircraft could become a reality in New Zealand.
Air New Zealand Chief Operational Integrity and Safety Officer Captain David Morgan says the MoU is an opportunity for the airline to be part of the design and definition of how a hydrogen-powered aircraft might fit into its own operations.
“We’ll be working closely with Airbus to understand opportunities and challenges, including achievable flying range and what ground infrastructure or logistics changes may be required to implement this technology in New Zealand.”
Airbus Asia-Pacific President Anand Stanley added that 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 with Air New Zealand will provide us with important insights about how we could put a zero-emission aircraft into service. The joint study will enable us to gain invaluable feedback on what airlines will expect and their preferences in terms of configuration and performance.”
Airbus is currently looking at three concepts for hydrogen-powered aircraft, including a turboprop, turbofan and blended wing option.