Glenorchy Air is committed to providing our customers with an experience that is as sustainable as it is spectacular. We have already begun our fleet upgrade program to replace some our smaller aircraft with larger, quieter and more efficient types such as our brand-new Cessna Grand Caravan EX’s Built by Textron Aviation in Independence Kansas, USA.
We chose these aircraft as they are the safest and most efficient aircraft in their class, burning only 11-12 litres of Jet Fuel per seat on a Milford trip with unmatched reliability. These aircraft are already certified to run on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and in line with our core company values; a primary objective is to be the first Queenstown Operator to use SAF when it is available in New Zealand.
There is currently a Turbine/Electric Hybrid grand Caravan EX in development by Surf Air Mobility, which is due for flight testing around 2024 and this engine will be retrofittable into our aircraft as their current engines come up for replacement. The Hybrid system is expected to reduce emissions and fuel burn by at least 25 percent on current levels. Read more about this here.
Glenorchy Air is closely following the development of pure electric aircraft and Our Managing Director James recently attended a presentation by Textron Aviation on E aviation. Textron has recently acquired Pipistrel Aviation, a Slovenian and Italian based company who developed and certified the first pure electric light sport aircraft in Europe. This aircraft, the Velis Electro, is a small two-seater plane and has an endurance of 50 mins with a 30 min reserve. This is not big enough or long enough to sustain our operations, but this innovation shows us that electric aircraft is on the horizon.
The biggest barriers to electric aviation’s expansion are weight of required batteries and the slow pace of certification, especially for new propulsion systems. Whilst there are many start-up companies out there with some incredible concepts but they’re limited by the technology that’s currently available. Regulators around the world will not rush to certify designs before all safety requirements are met. That said, we will be there every step of the way working with manufacturers, regulators, government and industry to allow us to meet our vital sustainability commitments as quickly and safely as possible.
As an innovative business looking into the future, we are very excited about where aviation is heading. We plan to be the leaders in embracing this future, likely starting with SAF, moving to Hybrid options on the way to a fully zero emissions aircraft as technology advances.