United Airlines has announced a conditional agreement to purchase 100 ES-19 electric aircraft, manufactured by Gothenburg, Sweden-based startup Heart Aerospace. Provided the equipment meets the carrier’s safety, business and operating requirements before being placed into service, the new fleet may reach the market as early as 2026.
The new aircraft seating 19 passengers and have the potential range of up to 250 miles. Powered by electric motors instead of jet engines, and using batteries instead of jet fuel, Heart’s ES-19 will have zero operational emissions.
The ES-19 aircraft will also be larger than other all-electric aircraft and will 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.
In addition to the aircraft purchase, United Airlines Ventures (UAV), the airline’s corporate venture capital fund, will invest in Heart Aerospace. UAV is partnering with Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Mesa Airlines, a regional carrier, to make the investment.
Mesa Airlines is United’s key strategic partner in bringing electric aircraft into commercial service. Mesa has also agreed to add 100 ES-19 aircraft to its fleet, subject to similar requirements.
Earlier this year, United announced a deal with Archer Aviation to accelerate the development of short-haul electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Archer said aircraft production will begin in 2023, with consumer flights launching in 2024.