Air New Zealand and Airbus Join Forces to Revolutionize Green Aviation with Hydrogen Power
Airbus and Air New Zealand have formed a consortium with key players in New Zealand’s “hydrogen ecosystem” to explore the commercial deployment of hydrogen-powered aircraft. The consortium, which includes Air New Zealand, Christchurch International Airport, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), Hiringa, and Fabrum, will evaluate the means of establishing hydrogen hubs at airports, starting with a case study in Christchurch. If the case study proves successful, the entire domestic network of New Zealand could eventually be powered by hydrogen.
New Zealand is a model a proactive and future-focused ecosystem, with a large share of renewable energy sources that have the potential for low-carbon hydrogen production.
The aim of the collaboration is to expand and support the consortium’s understanding of hydrogen-powered aircraft concepts and operations, hydrogen supply, hydrogen infrastructure and fuelling requirements at airports. The work will also identify pathways to the commercial viability and sustainability of hydrogen powered aircraft technologies in New Zealand and its accompanying regulatory framework.
Air New Zealand is evaluating the potential for low-emission aircraft technologies to support the decarbonization of its route network. Christchurch International Airport (CHC) has reduced airport carbon emissions by 90% since 2016, and is providing guidance to airports around the world on how to decarbonize their operations. Hiringa Energy is focusing on the commercial development and operation of hydrogen production, storage, distribution, and supply infrastructure. Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) is promoting the use of hydrogen and ammonia produced from 100% renewable energy sources. Fabrum will handle the design and manufacture of full ground infrastructure for hydrogen production, liquefaction, storage, fuel transfer, on-board flight fuel systems and architecture, motors, and certification support.
Karine Guenan, Vice President ZEROe Ecosystem at Airbus said: “New Zealand is a perfect aviation network, in terms of traffic, flight distances and airport network, for the deployment of regional to medium-haul hydrogen aircraft, to be developed within Airbus’ ZEROe project. This is fully in line with the ZEROe strategy to first study and deploy Hydrogen aviation ecosystems in the most suitable parts of the world. New Zealand has a great potential for hydrogen production from renewable electricity sources.”
Airbus will bring its technical expertise from its ZEROe hydrogen aircraft project, as well as its experience in the development and study of “Hydrogen Hubs at Airports.” The company aims to develop and put into service a new generation of commercial passenger transport aircraft using low-carbon hydrogen by 2035.
New Zealand presents a unique opportunity for decarbonized aviation due to its high proportion of renewable energy and its reliance on short-haul domestic flights. The consortium partners share a common goal to lead the way in achieving decarbonized aviation.
The consortium promises valuable insights, learnings and a roadmap for aviation and non-aviation hydrogen usage at airports. The combination of skills in the end-to-end hydrogen value chain, including airlines, airports, hydrogen technology providers, hydrogen facilities developers, and hydrogen aircraft developers, offers great potential for the future of decarbonized aviation.
Airbus has been exploring the use of hydrogen as a fuel source for aviation, and they’ve been working on a hydrogen-powered version of their A380 aircraft, dubbed the ‘ZEROe’ demonstrator.
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