Battery technology has improved enough that short-range commercial aircraft are beginning to make sense.
Several startups are working on viable electric aircraft, and some are beginning to attract the attention of major airlines.
Hart Aerospace is one of those startups.
We reported on the Sweden-based startup last year when it unveiled the ES-19, a 19-seat electric plane for short flights. ES-19 was meant to have a range of 250 miles (400 km), but this limit is commercially viable for short-haul flights with up to 19 passengers.
When unveiling the plane last year, Hart Aerospace also announced that it had secured investments from key partners: United Airlines Ventures (UAV), Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which is an investment vehicle for Bill Gates, and Mesa Airlines.
At that time, United and Mesa announced that they had placed an order for 100 ES-19 electric aircraft and had an option for 100 more.
a new plane
Now a year later, Hart Aerospace has decided to replace the ES-19 with the new ES-30, a 30-passenger electric aircraft.
The company announced in a press release:
The new airplane design, called the ES-30, is a regional electric airplane with a capacity of 30 passengers and replaces the company’s earlier 19-seat design, the ES-19. It is powered by electric motors powered by batteries, which allows the airplane to operate with zero emissions and low noise.
The change appears to be driven by Hart’s airline partners who are all already saying they are updating their orders to the new version of the plane.
Hart Aerospace elaborated on the new ES-30’s internal configuration:
The ES-30 features a comfortable three-way flat-floor cabin with seating and a galley and a toilet. Cabin storage and overhead bins would add to the larger external luggage and cargo compartment and provide airlines with network flexibility.
The company is involved in battery technology. When it came out of stealth mode last year, it believed battery technology would enable them to build a commercially viable all-electric aircraft for 19 passengers with a range of 250 miles (400 km) by 2026 .
Now the larger 30-passenger aircraft will have a much smaller all-electric range of 125 mi (200 km), but will have a reserve-hybrid configuration consisting of two turbo generators to achieve the original 250 mi (400 km). Limit and reserve energy requirements.
The reserve-hybrid turbogenerator is a new technology developed by companies including Honeywell and Rolls-Royce that enables aircraft to have electric propulsion powered by jet fuel.
Hart Aerospace still aims to make its aircraft mostly battery-powered and hopes to improve range with battery technology.
The new aircraft is now planned for commercial flights in 2028.
With the new ES-30 replacing the E19, Hart Aerospace announced that it has secured other important new partners in its project.
Air Canada and Saab have invested US$5 million in Hart Aerospace.
Air Canada President and Chief Executive Michael Russo commented on the announcement:
Air Canada is delighted to partner with Hart Aerospace on the development of this revolutionary aircraft. We’ve been working hard to reduce our footprint with much success, but we know that meeting our net-zero emissions targets will require new technology like the ES-30. We are confident that the team at HART Aerospace has the expertise to deliver on the ES-30’s promise of a cleaner and greener aviation future.
In addition to its investment, Air Canada has also placed a purchase order for 30 ES-30 aircraft.
The company has now confirmed that Nordic airlines Brathens Regional Airlines (BRA), Icelandair, SAS and New Zealand’s Sounds Air, on top of United and Air Canada, have placed orders for their electric planes.
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