Wellington Scoop

Zero emissions: Sounds Air wants to fly electric planes from Wellington

electric plane

Report from RNZ
Sounds Air is endeavouring to become the first regional airline to offer zero-emission flights.

It has signed a letter of intent to purchase electric planes with the Swedish company Heart Aerospace, which is aiming to manufacture 19-seat, ES-19 aircraft for commercial flights in 2026.

The airline’s board chair and director, Rhyan Wardman, told Morning Report the two companies were running simulations, to see how the electric planes would work in New Zealand.

“It’s an exciting time for aviation in particular, if you look at how we’ve adopted electric vehicles as a country and the work that’s going on with hydrogen propulsions systems for long-haul – electric flight is what’s next.”

Indications so far show that the electric planes wouldn’t cost a lot more than the usual ones for the airline, Wardman said. It has a 400 nautical mile range, and takes only about 20-40 minutes to recharge.

“If you look at the running costs that electric flights offers, we would expect it to be economically sound in proposition but also an environmentally sustainable one too.”

He said the country’s regional routes and airports were well-suited to utilise the new technology.

“We do a lot of short Hobbs, most of our flights are 50 nautical miles, so it’s ideal [place for] an early adoption of this technology.”

Wardman said he was not sure yet about whether the aircraft would be capable of doing shorter runways – like Picton – but believed it would optimal for routes between Blenheim and Wellington, Nelson-Wellington, Wellington-Westport and Wellington-Taupō.

“Part of our discussions have included talking with Wellington International Airport, because another key consideration was the infrastructural requirements.”

Travel times would probably be the same as usual flights, he said.


  1. Ben, 28. September 2020, 16:18

    This could make flying more environmentally friendly than the Cook Strait ferries!

  2. Sigurd, 28. September 2020, 17:52

    Ben, very true, given the ferries burn a lot of fossil fuel. Can’t wait until Wellington and Auckland and Christchurch planes are electric, too. It’ll come.

  3. David, 29. September 2020, 11:28

    The Government should offer a one off incentive to accelerate this kind of switch over for public transport infrastructure.

  4. Groggy, 29. September 2020, 11:57

    Good luck carrying a sheep truck or any significant quantities of freight on that little thing … so the ferries aren’t going to disappear any time soon.

  5. Russell, 30. September 2020, 13:59

    No mention of the recharge time, quick turn-around is vital for any airline. More so on short sectors. Forecast cost is $9 million USD each, enough to buy you lots of 1900Cs or metroliners, about five or ten of them

  6. Andy Mellon, 2. October 2020, 12:50

    @Russell – there is a mention of recharge time: The article states “It has a 400 nautical mile range, and takes only about 20-40 minutes to recharge.”


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