Airbus and Air New Zealand have signed an agreement to jointly explore ways to bring hydrogen-powered aircraft to New Zealand. According to a statement from the airline, the two parties are the first in the Asia-Pacific region to begin such research.
Under the terms of the agreement, Air New Zealand will be responsible for investigating the performance of hydrogen-powered aircraft in addition to the operation of the aircraft. The airline has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050, to operate shorter domestic flights with low-emission aircraft in the next decade, and to produce the hydrogen it uses from renewable energy. According to the CEO, the use of hydrogen-powered and battery-powered aircraft is currently being investigated, and the aim is to use kerosene from sustainable sources for long-haul flights.
As part of the cooperation, the airline will have the opportunity to have a say in the design and Airbus will gain useful operational experience. The manufacturer unveiled its hydrogen-powered aircraft concepts last September, one based on a propeller configuration, a second on a jet engine configuration and a third on the previously known bare wing design. Despite the challenges, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury says the first hydrogen-powered aircraft is expected in 2035, but the manufacturer does not expect widespread adoption before 2050.