Wellington and Blenheim are getting ready to 'electrify their airports', preparing infrastructure needed for commercial electric flights.
Regional airline Sounds Air has placed orders for three twenty-seat, electric ES-19 passenger aircraft. With delivery of these planes not scheduled until 2026, there is still a lot to do to get the necessary chargers in place in time for the handover.
Matt Clarke, Chief Commercial Officer for Wellington Airport said the travel hub was "committed to assisting Sounds Air to make history" in getting the runway ready to handle the demands of electric aircraft.
"The Wellington to Blenheim route is an excellent candidate for new technology with a 30-minute sector length matching the capability of carbon zero aircraft," said Clarke.
Chairman of Sounds Air Rhyan Wardman says the news brings the company "closer to our ambition to be the first airline in the world to achieve a fully electric fleet."
As a launch partner for the Swedish-based company Heart Aerospace the small New Zealand airline will be one of the first to adopt the technology.
In order for the technology to take-off there's a lot of infrastructure and training to put in place. However, Wardman says his company is in for the long-haul.
Institutions such as Massey School of Aviation and smaller private flight schools like Electric Air are already preparing pilots for an electric future alongside regular training.
"As the test ground for electric travel in the South Pacific there is an opportunity for New Zealand to develop international training programmes in our international education sector," says Wardman.
While 2026 might seem like a long way off, pilots are already getting behind the controls for the switch to electric aircraft.
"One of the things we've been pushing for is that new pilots be trained in electric aircraft as well as piston aircraft," says Gary Freedman of Electric Air.
The founder of the Christchurch-based flight school, which offers training in an all-electric Pipistrel Alpha Eco plane, says "there are differences that pilots need to start thinking about."
Battery life and handling are all parts of a new training syllabus. "We are already taking some commercial pilots through those considerations," said Freedman.
Electrifying the link may be more complicated than preparing the departure point and destination to cope with electric aircraft. The weather-dependent nature of aviation means that charging infrastructure would have to be in place, should they have to divert.
You need to electrify a network of alternates, says Freedman.
But "compared with the storage, movement and dangers of liquid fuel it is far, far simpler."