Heart Unveils Plans for 30-seat Electric Regional Airliner

 - September 15, 2022, 12:18 PM
Air Canada and Saab are investing in Heart Aerospace's plans to bring the 30-seat ES-30 model to market in 2028. (Photo: Heart Aerospace)

Heart Aerospace has doubled down on its plans to bring an electric regional airliner to market, unveiling a design for a 30-seat ES-30 that will now replace the 19-seat ES-19 the Swedish startup announced in 2020. During a September 15 event at Heart’s Gothenburg headquarters, Air Canada and Swedish aerospace and defense group Saab each committed to investing $5 million in the venture.

Air Canada also placed a provisional order for 30 of the ES-30s, which Heart says will mainly be powered by four battery-driven electric motors, now bolstered by a pair of turbo generators to meet reserve energy requirements, “without cannibalizing range.” The new model is expected to offer carriers an all-electric range of 200 km (125 miles), with an extended full-payload range of twice that distance and the potential for longer hybrid-powered flights to 800 km (500 miles) with 25 passengers on board, taking account of standard airline fuel reserves.

So far, Heart has released few details about the new design and which of the existing program partners, including avionics supplier Garmin and aerostructures specialist Aernnova, will remain involved with the relaunched ES-30 program. It has not stated, for instance, where it will source the two new turbogenerators.

Among the most obvious changes to the design of the ES-19 is a large additional compartment in the lower fuselage that seems likely to be for carrying batteries. Drawings also reveal new spars connecting the wing to the fuselage.

United Airlines and its Mesa Air regional partner, which previously made commitments to buy up to 300 ES-19s, have now opted to take the larger ES-30 in its place. According to Heart, several other prospective customers that signed earlier letters of intent (LOI) for the 19-seater have also now said they will take the new model. These companies include Braathens Regional Airlines, Icelandair, SAS, and New Zealand-based Sounds Air.

Swedish leasing group has signed an LOI for 40 ES-90s. Heart says it now has a total of 96 commitments for the electric airliner, which the company says will enter service in 2028—two years later than the date projected for the ES-19.

This week’s announcement did not specify what role Saab might have in the development and production work for the new aircraft. The group has a long heritage of building regional aircraft, such as the Saab 340 and 2000 twin turboprops.

“We are thrilled to have two such strong partners as Saab and Air Canada join our mission to electrify regional air travel,” said Heart Aerospace founder and CEO Anders Forslund. “Growing up in Sweden, Saab is synonymous with aerospace, and our partnership will not only support our program but help us to become a part of the proud Swedish aerospace heritage. Air Canada is a strategically important partner with one of the world’s largest networks operated by regional turboprops, and a progressive, future-leaning company.”

Heart also announced plans to build extensive facilities for advancing electric aviation technology at Gothenburg’s Säve Airport. The Northern Runway campus will accommodate the company’s offices, production, and flight test facilities, as well as provide space for partner companies in new sustainable buildings. The facility is part of a larger Gateway Säve development owned by the Castellum group.

“Gothenburg has distinguished itself as a driving force within electrification, with world-class research facilities like the Swedish electric transport laboratory, SEEL, Chalmers University of Technology, and a large cluster of companies focused on battery and electric vehicle development,” said Heart’s chief operating officer Sofia Graflund. “The ambition that Castellum and the city of Gothenburg have for Gateway Säve is truly unique and that is why we have decided to establish a new industry here.”

Heart currently employs 130 people and expects to expand its workforce to around 500 by 2025. It expects to start test flights with a full-scale ES-30 prototype in 2026.

The company has established an industry advisory board for the ES-30 program, consisting of leaders from airlines, leasing companies, and airports from around the world. In addition to existing customers for the aircraft, Cebu Pacific, Republic Airways, Christchurch Airport, London City Airport, Vmo Aircraft Leasing, and Wellington Airport are also represented on the board.

This story is from FutureFlight.aero, a news and information resource developed by AIN to provide objective, independent coverage, and analysis of cutting-edge aviation technology, including electric aircraft developments and advanced air mobility.