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Sounds Air has signed a letter of intent with Swedish aircraft manufacturer Heart Aerospace to buy an ES-19 electric aircraft, due to become available in 2026.
Sounds Air chairman Rhyan Wardman said New Zealand was the perfect place for electric aircraft.
‘‘The type of electric aircraft we are looking at are a little larger than the fleet we currently have, and the 400 km range is ideal for the routes we fly.’’
The distance by air from Wanaka to Christchurch is about 300km.
Heart Aerospace’s fully electric, battery powered, 19-seat aircraft was expected to have a top speed of 215 knots and a cruise speed of 180 knots, and would be able to operate from runways as short as 750m.
Mr Wardman said the low running costs made the aircraft an economical option as well as an environmentally friendly one.
‘‘There will obviously be some significant initial outlay to purchase the aircraft, but just as with electric cars, the running and maintenance costs are negligible in comparison to jet fuel-powered turboprop engines.
‘‘We believe that the economics stack up but more importantly, we believe that it’s the right thing to do.’’