Air New Zealand Inks Deal for Up to 23 Eviation’s ‘Alice’

The delivery agreement comes as Air New Zealand advances its Mission NextGen Aircraft program aimed at accelerating the adoption of zero-emission aircraft.

Alice begins her inaugural climb to 3,500 feet. [Credit: David Honan]

Eviation Aircraft Inc. has signed a letter of intent (LOI) to deliver up to 23 electric Alice aircraft to Air New Zealand, making the airline the first national flag carrier to order the experimental aircraft as part of its mission to lead a new era of sustainable flight.

All About Alice

Arlington, Washington-based Eviation rolled out the Alice proof-of-concept design earlier this year. Alice is a clean-sheet design powered by two magni650 electric propulsion units developed by magniX, a global industry manufacturer of flight-proven electric propulsion systems. 

Alice is designed to be a commuter-class aircraft, and to operate at a lower cost than light jets or high-end turboprops currently in use.

In September, FLYING was there when the Alice proof-of-concept aircraft made its first flight in Moses Lake, Washington. When the aircraft lifted off into the morning skies there were cheers, as the Eviation team has spent several years developing the sleek commuter-class aircraft.

According to Gregory Davis, President and CEO of Eviation, a good portion of Air New Zealand's routes fit well within the aircraft’s range and performance.

"Regional flights make up a sizable proportion of Air New Zealand’s routes," he said. "The Alice offers an effective way to decarbonize these journeys, revolutionizing air travel and supporting the goals of the Mission NextGen Aircraft program."

Gregory went on to note, "New Zealand has earned a proud reputation for its progressive attitude and wide-ranging policies towards the climate challenge. The Alice is a beautiful aircraft that will delight airline operators and passengers. Seeing it soar through the skies of New Zealand is a magical prospect, and I pay tribute to Air New Zealand’s commitment to innovation and sustainability."

Zero-Emission Aircraft

In November Air New Zealand announced its Mission NextGen Aircraft program with the goal of accelerating the adoption of zero-emission aircraft, with the first zero emission flight taking place in 2026.

According to a statement from Air New Zealand, the company is looking at a combination of electric, green hydrogen, and hybrid aircraft. These partnerships involve Air New Zealand signing a "statement of intent to order," a document which demonstrates its ambition to acquire three aircraft initially, with further options for 20, from one or more of the partners subject to an evaluation process.

Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said the airline selected these partners based on their aircraft development and their shared goal of starting now to take ambitious action on climate change.

"Mission NextGen Aircraft is not about backing one innovator. It’s about working with a range of leaders in zero emissions aircraft technology to help move the whole ecosystem along," Foran said. "Our goal is to confirm our commitment with one or more of these partners in the next 12 months with the ambition of purchasing an aircraft for delivery from 2026.

"The learnings we will take from flying an aircraft with next generation propulsion technology from 2026 will then pave the way for our long-term partners to deliver an aircraft that can replace our Q300 turbo prop domestic fleet," he said.

Foran continues, “Eviation’s all-electric Alice aircraft is a natural fit for the program with its proven technology that is optimized for short-range flights.”

About Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand was established in 1940 with a flight between Auckland and Sydney on a flying boat. Today, the airline operates some 98 aircraft ranging from Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, Airbus A320s, ATRs, and Bombardier Q300 turboprops.

Alice will be added to the fleet that serves domestic routes.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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