United Airlines announced today that it would put an electric plane into the skies by 2026. The airline has teamed up with Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and Mesa Airlines to invest in electric aircraft startup Heart Aerospace.
Heart Aerospace is developing the ES-19, a 19-seat electric aircraft that has the potential to fly customers up to 250 miles before the end of this decade.
In addition United Airlines 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.
By utilising 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).
“Electric aircraft are happening now—the technology is already here,” said Anders Forslund CEO of Heart Aerospace. “We couldn’t be prouder to be partnering with United, Mesa and BEV on taking our ES-19 aircraft to market. I can’t imagine a stronger coalition of partners to advance our mission to electrify short-haul air travel.”
Once operational, Heart’s ES-19 could give customers access to the convenience of flight without contributing to carbon emissions that cause climate change.
“We expect the short-haul regional air travel market to play a key role in the evolution of the electric aircraft. As battery technology improves, larger-gauge aircraft should become viable but we’re not going to wait to begin the journey,” Leskinen said. “That’s why we’re looking forward to beginning our work with Heart, so that, together, we can scale the availability of electric airliners and use them for passenger flights within the next five years.”