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United Airlines eyes flying Electric Aircraft by 2026

United Airlines has announced that it has signed agreement to acquire 100 of Heart Aerospace’s ES-19 aircraft, a 19-seat electric airliner that has the potential to decarbonize regional air travel.

United’s Electric Aircraft

United Airlines Ventures (UAV) announced today it, along with Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and Mesa Airlines, has invested 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 to UAV’s investment, United Airlines has conditionally agreed to purchase 100 ES-19 aircraft, once the aircraft meet United’s safety, business and operating requirements. United’s key strategic partner in bringing electric aircraft into commercial service, Mesa Airlines, has also agreed to add 100 ES-19 aircraft to its fleet, subject to similar requirements.

UAV is building a portfolio of companies that focus on innovative sustainability concepts and create the technologies and products necessary to build a carbon-neutral airline and reach United’s net-zero greenhouse gas emissions goals.

Michael Leskinen, Vice President Corp Development & Investor Relations, United, as well as UAV’s President, 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. Mesa’s long serving CEO, Jonathan Ornstein has shown visionary leadership in the field of electric-powered flight.

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By utilizing 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. What’s interesting is that the aircraft 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 to Purdue University Airport and San Francisco International Airport to Modesto City-County Airport.

Carmichael Roberts, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, said:

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. 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.

Once operational, Heart’s ES-19 could give customers access to the convenience of flight without contributing to carbon emissions that cause climate change.

Anders Forslund, CEO, Heart Aerospace, said:

Electric aircraft are happening now—the technology is already here. 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.

Michael Keskinen added:

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. 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.

United is heavily investing on Carbon-Free aircraft. The airline recently announced that it will buy up to 50 Supersonic aircraft from BOOM Aerospace. The Chicago-based carrier is also investing in airplanes that have lower carbon emissions. It includes the airline’s recent order of 200 Boeing B737MAX and 70 Airbus A321neo aircraft.

Meanwhile, United Airlines, just a few days ago, added nearly 150 flights to Warm-Weather cities for Winter season and three brand-new Transcontinental routes.

Featured image by United

What do you think of United’s order of 100, ES-19 aircraft and the airline’s commitment to sustainable flying? Let me know in the comments section below.

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