Published date: 27 March 2024

The CAA recently launched its Reduced and Zero Emissions Project (RZEP) to support the introduction of Reduced and Zero Emission Aircraft (RZEA) into New Zealand’s Aviation system.

Globally, there are exciting developments taking shape, with many RZEA in development. Eventually, these technologies will require entry into service into New Zealand’s aviation system.

As is normal for emerging aviation technologies, regulatory pathways for future RZEA operators aren’t yet clear. The project aims to safely introduce these new aircraft and ensure operators can readily navigate New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Rules and regulations.

John Kay, Deputy Chief Executive System Practice and Design at the CAA, explains that safety is their main priority as the project evolves,

“Reduced and Zero Emission Aircraft are a great opportunity for New Zealand, but they also pose a challenge for our regulatory system. To meet that challenge, we’ve had to explore other ways to use the current regulatory framework. This means the CAA will be working differently with the aviation industry — and internally — to enable a safe introduction of these aircraft into our aviation system.”

Various New Zealand Air Transport operators have already shown an interest in RZEA operations, with Air New Zealand emerging with the firmest plans.

Air New Zealand(external link) is planning to fly commercial demonstrator flights from 2026 and replace the Q300 domestic fleet with a more sustainable aircraft from 2030. Beta Technologies’ Alia CTOL was selected as the aircraft most likely to be the first commercial RZEA operated in New Zealand.

While the delivery of RZEP is currently aligned with Air New Zealand’s timelines, the outcomes of the project will benefit future operators. If another operator, or operators, emerge in this space while the project is live, they’ll be taken into account alongside Air New Zealand.

Throughout the project, the CAA will consult and engage with various stakeholders to keep them informed. To stay up to date with the RZEP’s progress, visit our website: 

Reduced and Zero Emissions Project