Air New Zealand Selects New Aircraft For Next Era

Daniel Fowkes
06 Dec 2023
· Aircraft 
· Airlines 
Air New Zealand selects ALIA by Beta Technologies for its next era of flying. This all electric and battery operated aircraft is expected to begin flying with Air New Zealand in 2026

Air New Zealand is continuing its steps towards lowering emissions by announcing it has selected BETA’s ALIA CTOL for its next generation of aircraft.

Behind The Deal And Operations

Air New Zealand says the electric aircraft have been purchased to align with their goals of reshaping air travel.

One aircraft has been purchased under a firm order. However, options are present for two additional units and rights for a further 20 aircraft.

Air New Zealand will start small first and work their way upward if the aircraft proves to be a success for the company in the long term.

As part of these plans, the first all-electric and battery-powered aircraft should join the fleet as early as 2026. This would be part of a broader goal of flying a commercial demonstrator by this year.

For over 18 months, Air New Zealand has been studying and evaluating choices for the Mission Next Gen Aircraft programme. A total of 30 organisations put forward ideas and their insight on what would work best.

Air New Zealand, this aircraft will initially operate as cargo only with a direct partnership being signed with New Zealand Post.

However, the airports through which it’ll operate remain undecided. The carrier says an announcement can be expected sometime in early 2024 of who the two frontrunners will be.

A selection process for airports is ongoing following an expression of interest from airports across Aotearoa.

Comments From Executives

This is a small but important step in a much larger journey for Air New Zealand. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we are incredibly committed, and this purchase marks a new chapter for the airline. Decarbonising aviation isn’t easy, and we have a lot of work to do. We need to accelerate the pace of change in the technology, infrastructure, operations and regulation. While this aircraft will add to, not replace our existing fleet, it is a catalyst for that change. By flying the ALIA, we hope to advance our knowledge and the transformation needed in the aviation system in Aotearoa for us to fly larger, fleet replacing, next generation aircraft from 2030.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Greg Foran

Air New Zealand is hyper focused on bringing technologies to scale as quickly as possible, both to meet its own ambitions to decarbonise and to change the broader aviation landscape. Over the past year plus of partnership, collaboration, and diligence, we’ve seen Air New Zealand’s forward-thinking, yet pragmatic and methodical approach to innovation. We are gratified by the airline’s confidence in our technology as a solution that will meet their operational needs and look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand as we bring the ALIA to market for 2026.

BETA Chief Executive Officer, Kyle Clark

Understanding ALIA Better

The ALIA has seen flight testing resulting in over 480kms flown in one flight. Air New Zealand has outlined initial flights of around 150 km.

Additionally, Air New Zealand says the maximum altitude the aircraft would fly would be 3000 metres. A lower altitude is thanks to the short services Air New Zealand would be deploying the type on.

As for the specifications of ALIA, weighing in at three tonnes, the plane could fly up to a speed of 270km/s an hour. Ultimately, the plane is just some 12 metres in length.

Meanwhile, since this is battery-operated, ALIA is expected to charge for 40-60 minutes.

While there’s hope the aircraft will play a pivotal role in reshaping operations, the carrier is aware of the associated risks.

The airline says it’ll only welcome the plane into service once ALIA has passed all the required certification tests and is deemed safe to operate by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.

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