Venari secures contract to deliver Ziegler’s hybrid Z-Class at Cranfield Airport

The hybrid Z6 exterior in action at an airport

Industry Leaders

Venari Group – exclusive partners in the United Kingdom with Ziegler Group – has announced its contract to supply a UK-first hybrid aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) truck to Cranfield Airport, which is owned by Cranfield University.

In June of this year, Ziegler Group announced the electrification of the game-changing Z-Class, with the introduction of the Z-Class HybridDrive: A 6×6 ARFF utilising a hybrid drive train, not only for environmental benefits, but to improve critical response times through increased vehicle performance.

Following an 18-month phase of rigorous market research and a subsequent, comprehensive tender process, Venari has been awarded a contract by Cranfield University to supply and maintain the Ziegler Z-Class HybridDrive at Cranfield Airport. Cranfield University is a leader in sustainable aviation research and development and was awarded £3 million earlier this year to decarbonise airport operations and further develop low-carbon aircraft.

Market Innovation

Venari Group CEO, Oliver North, commented: “The 2021 UK Z-Class launch essentially provided the UK aviation firefighting industry with much needed competition at a time when innovation was required.

“But, to respond to requests for further advancements – to allow airports to improve operational performance whilst achieving increased environmental targets in parallel – has shown the unbelievably high quality of our partner, Ziegler.

“The award from Cranfield allows Venari and Ziegler with a platform to boost not only Cranfield Airport’s decarbonising activity, but the aviation firefighting appliance sector in general. We’re very much ‘walking the walk’ in the direction that airports have requested.”

Low angle view of the Z6 exterior at an airport

Fabian Schmidt, Product Manager ARFF vehicles at Ziegler added: “We’re excited to be working with our valued UK partner, Venari, to provide this ground-breaking vehicle to Cranfield Airport following their rigorous market research and tender process.

“Following years of continuous development of our Z-Class, we feel confident that our new Z6 HybridDrive will prove to be a firm favourite for the UK airport fire and rescue services, not only to achieve tough environmental targets, but to improve overall operational effectiveness.”

Cranfield Airport’s new Z-Class HybridDrive will be manufactured at Ziegler’s Giengen headquarters and then sent to West Yorkshire-based Venari for finalisation such as stowage fitment, communications instalments and livery.

From later 2023 Cranfield Airport will  have an appliance capable of being operated in three different ways: solely with electric power; with a blend of electric and combustion engine; or – in the event of protracted incidents requiring long duties – purely with a conventional, low emission Euro 6 engine.

Once the truck is produced and delivered to Cranfield Airport, Venari’s experienced team of airport rescue and firefighting truck engineers will ensure maximum operational efficiency, through regular preventative service intervals.

Venari’s sales manager, John Purdy, highlighted: “To supply the best ARFF on the planet is only half the job of a good distributor, as the aviation firefighting industry are fully aware.

“The hard work starts for us once the vehicle is delivered to ensure the vehicle proves to be the most robust, reliable and subsequently the most consistent ARFF in the UK. Only then can we stake a claim to maintain our target for the Z-Class to appear at most airports in the UK.

“But knowing the level of passion that the team and I have for both this vehicle and our partners, Ziegler, it is a project that we’re more than excited to get started.”


Driving research into aviation and the environment 

Cranfield University plays a significant role in accelerating sustainable aviation research and translating this to regulated aviation. As the only university in Europe with its own airport, alongside leading aerospace research facilities and world-renowned experts, Cranfield is harnessing digital and physical technologies to achieve rapid innovation.

Rob Abbott, Cranfield Airport Director, commented: “Cranfield Airport is used to ground-breaking projects in areas such as our  Digital Air Traffic Control Centre, the integration of manned and unmanned aircraft and enabling the future of electric and hydrogen flight. This contract represents another milestone on our support to the zero carbon aviation agenda.”

Cranfield became a member of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) in 2020 and has hosted itsFacility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) Airborne Laboratory since 2007. In September 2020, Cranfield supported ZeroAvia in achieving the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered flight of a commercial-grade aircraft. Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and the university are developing a green propulsion system using hydrogen fuel cell technology which can be fitted into aircraft with existing combustion engines.

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