Toulouse-based manufacturer ATR, and Air New Zealand have signed an agreement to explore the role of new propulsion technologies and “the future of the regional aircraft ecosystem” including hybrid aircraft.
Under the partnership, the two firms will investigate the development of possible new solutions and the systems required for support, such as airport and regulatory infrastructure, maintenance, ground and flight operations.
Speaking as the agreement was signed, Christopher Luxo, Air New Zealand’s chief executive officer said: “Hybrid aircraft are expected to enter the market in the next decade or so. Depending on when hybrid and electric technologies become available for larger turbo-prop aircraft, we believe there is potential for these to be a viable option for our regional network.”
According to the Kiwi flag carrier, the country’s renewable electricity supply and the airline’s comprehensive regional network is seen as the ideal test bed for these technologies.
ATR’s chief executive officer, Stefan Bortoli added: “ATR, as a market leader, is working on the future and turboprop technology will be an essential part of that. Hybrid and electric aircraft clearly are in that way forward. This will be a unique benchmark for the industry and for New Zealand and we look forward to starting this exciting project together.”