USA airline United is putting its money and faith in an electric aircraft startup called Heart Aerospace.
Alongwith Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and Mesa Airlines, United has invested in Heart which is developing the ES-19, a 19-seat electric aircraft with a range of up to 250 miles.
United Airlines Ventures has conditionally agreed to purchase 100 ES-19 aircraft, once the aircraft meet United’s safety, business and operating requirements.
Mesa Airlines, United’s key strategic partner in bringing electric aircraft into commercial service, has also agreed to add 100 ES-19 aircraft to its fleet, subject to similar requirements.
Michael Leskinen of United said, “Breakthrough Energy Ventures is the leading voice of investors who are supporting clean-energy technology creation.
“We share their view that we have to build companies who have real potential to change how industries operate and, in our case, that means investing in companies like Heart Aerospace who are developing a viable electric airliner.
“We recognize that customers want even more ownership of their own carbon emissions footprint. We’re proud to partner with Mesa Air Group to bring electric aircraft to our customers earlier than any other US airliner.”
It’s hoped the investment will allow Heart Aerospace to fast track the ES-19 introduction to market as early as 2026.
“Aviation is such a critical piece of our global economy. At the same time, it’s a major source of carbon emissions and one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonize,” said Carmichael Roberts, Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
“We believe electric aircraft can be transformational in reducing the emissions of the industry, and enable low cost, quiet and clean regional travel on a broad scale.
“Heart’s visionary team is developing an aircraft around its proprietary electric motor technology that will allow airlines to operate at a fraction of the cost of today and has the potential to change the way we fly.”
By using electric motors instead of jet engines, and batteries instead of jet fuel, Heart’s ES-19 aircraft will have zero operational emissions.
Seating 19 passengers, the ES-19 aircraft will also be larger than any of its all-electric competitors and will be designed to operate on the same types of batteries used in electric cars.
Once operational, the ES-19 could operate on more than 100 of United’s regional routes out of most of its hubs. Some of these routes include Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Purdue University Airport (LAF) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Modesto City-County Airport (MOD).