Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) has been announced as the sole hydrogen-powered aircraft partner of Air New Zealand’s Mission Next Gen Aircraft, the flag carrier’s zero-emissions aircraft programme.

As the only British company selected out of 30 candidates, CAeS will work alongside three other companies worldwide with Air New Zealand on its mission to have its first zero emissions demonstrator flight take to the skies from 2026.

Over the next 12 months, Air New Zealand will commit to one or more of these partners, with the ambition of purchasing an aircraft for delivery from 2026.

Demonstration in 2026

If successful, CAeS will carry out commercial demonstration in 2026 and beyond with the airline signing a letter of intent for 3 aircraft to fly the commercial demonstrator operation with an addition option for 20 aircraft.

The announcement sees CAeS move closer to its ultimate goal of reintroducing new aircraft design and
manufacture in the UK putting the UK firmly back on the aerospace map as a manufacture of whole aircraft as opposed to solely a supplier of structures and components to manufacturers based overseas.

Phase 1 of CAeS’ roadmap to produce zero-emissions aircraft is “Project Fresson” – the conversion of a Britten-Norman Islander 9-seat aircraft from conventional fossil fuel to that of gaseous hydrogen propulsion.

Emissions-free commercial air travel

This development is set to deliver the world’s first fully certified, truly green, passenger-carrying aircraft using hydrogen fuel cell technology.

The end solution will deliver emissions-free commercial air travel and is planned to be certified for passenger flight in 2026.

After the 9-seat Islander CAeS has a multi-phase programme that includes larger aircraft up to and including 75+ seat regional aircraft.
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