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On 12 May 2026, it will be 100 years since the airship Norge passed over the North Pole. The engines were shut down, the airship reduced its height to 200 meters as three Norwegian, Italian and American flags were thrown onto the ice. About a third of the world’s first flight between Europe and America across the Arctic had then been covered.

It was a race of several nations to get to the poles first. Roald Amundsen and Oscar Adolf Wisting are widely recognized as the first two to conquer both the South Pole and the North Pole.

The airship Norge with a crew of 16 men and 1 dog departed Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard on 11 May 1926 and arrived at the geographic North Pole the next day at 2.20am.

Kjeller airport

The airship was designed and built by the Italian engineer Umberto Nobile. Lincoln Ellsworth in the USA and the Norwegian Luftsailadsforening, forerunner of the Norwegian Air Sports Federation, were central in financing the expedition.

After 72 hours of flight, the exhausted airship crew approached Teller in Alaska. The hydrogen gas was released and the airship made a hard landing before coming to rest on its side.

What made it possible for the polar explorer, scientist and aviation pioneer Roald Amundsen to conquer both the South Pole and the North Pole? A couple of keywords are innovation and collaboration.

After winning the race to the South Pole in 1911, he visited San Francisco in 1913 where he discovered the great possibilities of aviation. Straight from the USA, he became the first student pilot at Kjeller Airport, where in 1914 he obtained the country’s international pilot license no. 1.

Kjeller is more than one of the world’s oldest airports. Roald Amundsen contributed to creating a large innovation environment at Kjeller and is still a role model for generations.

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"He experimented with airplanes from 1922-1925. He used up his money and other people's. No one would pay anymore. Not his brother Leon, not the nation of Norway. But he did not give up, and went on a speaking tour in the United States to get money. There he was called by Lincoln Ellsworth, engineer and son of a wealthy coal mine owner in the United States. He wanted to help pay, in return for being allowed to join the expedition", according to Varangermuseum.

After an unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole with the Dornier Do J "Wal" N24 and N25 seaplanes in 1925, he succeeded with the airship Norge in 1926. For Roald Amundsen, it was a childhood dream that came true.

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"Roald Amundsen writes in his book about the Norway journey that his plans to use airships to fly across the Arctic Ocean were laid in Ny-Ålesund in May 1925, during the preparations for the flying wing with the flying boats N24 and N25. By then, Lincoln Ellsworth, Leif Dietrichson, Amundsen and Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen had discussed the advantages of airships over planes. For example, aircraft had to make an emergency landing if there was a fault in the engine, while airship engines could be maintained in the air. There was also the fact that an emergency landing by plane through thick fog was "certain death", and furthermore that airships could carry more cargo than planes and could stay in the air for a longer period of time", says the Fram Museum.

Celebrating the past is an opportunity to focus on and create a better world. In November 2022, the transport ministers from Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway declared an agreement to follow up Vision 2030 and to strengthen the Nordic region as the world’s most sustainable and integrated region.

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Norwegian aviation is calling for a center for research, innovation and technology development. On 15 March 2024, the Government can present the news that they will prioritize NOK 1 billion in the National Transport Plan (NTP) for an accelerated phasing-in of zero- and low-emission aviation in Norway.

Airports in the Nordics

According to the government, "An efficient, environmentally friendly and safe transport system throughout the country in 2050" constitutes the target structure of the National Transport Plan - NTP 2025–2036.

Avinor and CAA announce on 24 April 2024 that they will establish a test and innovation center for green aviation. The transition to green aviation makes it possible to use Norway as an arena to “create national values, competitiveness and sustainable public solutions of great value for both Norway and the world”, according to SINTEF.

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The government invites aviation communities and airports to create arenas within aviation for testing and innovation. One of the most obvious locations is Kjeller airport, which is the hub and neighbor of one of the country's largest research and innovation environments.

Kjeller in Lillestrøm and Oslo Science City will be central to the development of an innovation district in southern Norway, where a large aviation environment at a historic local airport can become one of several pillars.

Airports in the Nordics

The climate program Green Aviation and the Ministry of Transport and Communications (SD) organized the conferences ZERAC22 and ZERAC23 in Oslo, on instruments for faster phasing in of green aviation.

During AERO 2024 Friedrichshafen in April, General Secretary John Eirik Laupsa of the Norwegian Air Sports Federation (picture above) was able to sign a "Letter of Intent" for assistance and future investment in the all-electric school plane Integral E from Aura Aero in Toulouse.

The Ministry of Transport's input seminar for the National Transport Plan in Oslo in 2023 focused on two priorities: 1. "Take care of what we have and build new where we have to" and 2. "Make better use of existing capacity and transport options".

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The Government with the Ministry of Transport, Avinor and the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority will speed up the transition to decarbonised aviation so that the first commercial zero- and low-emission aircraft can be phased into the short-haul airports as soon as technology permits.

Airports are the cornerstones of aviation, according to Airbus. In a January 2021 report, NASA highlights the value of local airports and concludes that Regional Air Mobility will "fundamentally change how we travel" by bringing increased comfort, greater flexibility and safety to air travel.

According to NASA, local airports will play a key role in local and regional sustainable aviation, and in fulfilling the potential in education, technological development, science, innovation and business.

Airports in the Nordics

Further development of local airports can contribute to the acceleration of the green shift in aviation. It will create more dynamism in research, innovation and technology between aircraft manufacturers, airlines, academia, business and tourism.

Airports in the Nordics

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) offers exciting and complex concepts. It includes a number of innovative aviation technologies, like small drones, electrified aircraft, eVTOL and automated flight control that transform the role of aviation in everyday life, towards zero-emission transportation of goods and passengers.

The Storting will strengthen the short-haul network in the new aviation strategy. The government launched "Roadmap 2.0 - Green industrial boost" in 2024 and allocates NOK 15 billion to new projects. The roadmap contains 3 billion in new capital to Nysnø (1.85 billion), Siva (1 billion) and Investinor (150 million), 10 billion in increased guarantees under Eksfin and 1 billion to loan framework under Innovation Norway and 1 billion over five years for development within battery projects.

Airports in the Nordics

New technology and new electrified aircraft types with hydrogen, battery operation and hybrid solutions create great potential for business and millions of travelers in the Nordics and the rest of the world.

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