Intending to decarbonize its operations, United Airlines has made an investment worth $35 million with Swedish electric plane manufacturer Heart Aerospace along with Mesa Airlines, Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), Heart Aerospace announced via media release.
Heart Aerospace is presently developing its first all-electric 19-seater aircraft, the ES-19, with a maximum range of up to 250 miles, running on lithium-ion batteries and electric motors. The 19-seater aircraft is the true insight of this plane as they operated efficiently on shorter routes in the 1980s.
ES-19 consists of eight rows of comfortable seats with an extra three seats at the back with a relaxing 30-inch (70 cm) pitch. According to Heart Aerospace, their electric motor will be 20 times cheaper than the same size turboprop with low maintenance. The plane’s features are yet to be announced by the company; however, there’s one thing we know for now is that ES-19 is going to be an economical choice.
ES-19 is expected to fly in 2024 with a flying capability of 250 miles (400km). The plan is said to be in its development phases and would be available for service in 2026. The company aims to initiate short distance flights involving Canada, British Isles, New Zealand, and Indonesia. However, the company plans to fly from Chicago and Purdue airports or San Francisco to Modesto City for starters.
Heart Aerospace is not all about speed. By 2050, the company aims for short-haul flights to reach 2.8 gigatons. At present, the trips are fuel-powered at 800 miles (1300 km) and are responsible for 33 percent of global emissions, but Heart Aerospace wants to bring it down by electrifying every trip. In addition, Sweden is seeking fossil-free domestic travel by 2030, though Norway has established itself a 2040 deadline.
“We don’t want to wait for 50 seats, 75 seats, 125-seat aircraft,” Mike Leskinen, chairman of United Airlines Ventures, says. “We want to get involved now by investing in a company that we think has a big technological lead with the hopes of working with them to move the size of the aircraft to a larger gauge.”
ES-19 plane development would be a significant step towards the idea of building emission-free larger planes.
After the global pandemic, United Airlines is ambitious about its future and had invested its capital in supersonic planes and urban air taxis.