New Hybrid Is An Airliner ‘The Industry Can Actually Use’ Says Company

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Sweden’s Heart Aerospace says it has a hybrid electric airliner “the industry can actually use” and Air Canada is gambling they’re right. Canada’s largest airline announced it’s buying 30 Heart ES-30s and hopes to be the launch operator as soon as 2028. “We have designed a cost efficient airplane that allows airlines to deliver good service on a wide range of routes,” said Anders Forslund, founder and CEO of Heart Aerospace. “With the ES-30 we can start cutting emissions from air travel well before the end of this decade.”

The ES-30 is a short haul (125-250 mile) 30-seat design that looks like a small conventional regional airliner. Inside, it has two-plus-one seating with familiar airliner features like overhead bins, a lav and a galley. With a full charge, Heart says it will take all 30 passengers and their bags 125 miles (assumably with IFR reserves). Fire up the onboard turbine generator (running on sustainable aviation fuel) and there’s a 250-mile range. Ground charging will take 30-50 minutes and the use of SAF makes it a net-zero carbon trip depending on the electricity source for the ground charge. 

Heart has already sold United Airlines and Mesa Group up to 300 copies of an earlier 19-seat design. It’s not clear whether those orders will be converted to the bigger aircraft. Meanwhile, Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau said the ES-30 is a step in the airline’s long-term sustainability goal to be net-zero by 2050. Although Canada is a vast country, it has pockets of dense population where the 125- to 250-mile range will work on Air Canada’s regional network.

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39 COMMENTS

  1. So United and Mesa are going to “upgrade” their previous “commitments” to to a design that didn’t work out, to an IMPROVED design that exists in concept only.

    This is hardly breathtaking “news”–it’s “vaporware.” Schemes for producing vehicles that “run on water” (now called “vaporware”) have been around for decades–but they never seem to work out.

    Perhaps we should have a”futures market” for positions on these breathless announcements–it would be a real-time indicator of the confidence that these would ever be produced. I wouldn’t “bet the family farm” on it!

    • Jim, not “Vaporware” anymore they call it the “MetaVerse” now. Everything is possible in the MetaVerse. I have nephews that spend many hours a day fighting dragons and zombies in the MetaVerse. They kill them with the lasers mounted on their eVTOL.

      Since we’re talkin’ Virtue Reality, Heart Aerospace should have a very high powered S.A.F. turbine generator Drone that attaches to the aircraft for Take-Off then detaches and flies back to the airport and powers the next electric plane to 30,000 feet. That should give the passenger plane at least 500 NM range.

  2. I believe that we will have full battery electric aircraft that will easily meet these specs by the end of the decade. Once it happens, there will be a rush to change over for one simple reason — economics. I have had an electric car since 2019 and the cost to drive is about 2.5 cents per mile (4.3 mile per kilowatt hour and $0.11 per kilowatt hour — you do the math). The only maintenance item other than tires has to been to change the rear wiper blade.

      • The math is that you are not carrying 30 people pointed up a 2 mile high mountain before you even really get level and start cruising toward a destination Once up and level, you battle at least 200 kts of continuous drag.

        • Spot on. It is completely improper to compare electric cars with electric airplanes.
          High cruise speed and high cruise power requirements do not allow 100% battery-powered commercial transport airplanes.
          Forever.
          Regardless of battery technology development.

    • $60,000-$100,000 for that electric car means you pay the cost upfront instead of in fuel. When it is time to replace batteries you get another bill for $10,000. And the idea it is environmentally clean is an obscene lie. The damage to the environment happens during production to get all the rare earth minerals for batteries. Add to that states like CA are already having blackouts because they want to kill fossil fuel energy sources and how you charge that car will only go up or be less available. Sorry Sam. You got suckered.

      • Even worse than that:

        “How much does a Tesla battery cost?”

        Tesla battery replacement cost varies depending on the labor and parts needed. Typically, the most basic battery replacement in tesla costs between $13,000 and $14,000. For the Model S premium sedan, replacing a Tesla battery costs around $13,000-$20,000.

      • I paid $37,000 for a new 2019 Chevy Bolt and received a $7500 rebate so the net cost was about $30,000 and not $60,000 to $100,000. I will be surprised if I do not get at least 200,000 miles from the battery. It is warranted for 8 years or 100,000 miles but if you do not charge it to 100% (GM lets you set the max charge) and do not use fast charge, the battery will last much larger. You can get a new 2023 Bolt for about $26,000. GM has also announced that the electric Equinox SUV will have a base price of less than $30,000. Ford’s new electric F-150 has a base price only $2000 more than the gas version. two of my friends that run a mechanical contracting company have ordered 2. If you were a contractor, you would have be even dumber than some of the commenters here to buy one of the gas models as the electric version has much more utility in addition to having a much lower cost of ownership.

        • There is no such thing as a free lunch. Please do not use subsidized costs as if they were not paid. The fact you got a refund from the government makes things worse, not better. The car costs what it costs. Who pays is irrelevant in a discussion about cost.

          It may make the car a better deal for you, but it doesn’t change the actual cost.

          • As I noted, after the refund had expired, GM reduced the price several times. You can get a 2023 BOLT for less than I paid with the rebate. I was never a huge fan of the rebate but I did take advantage of it. Unlike some, including our previous president, I have never tried to cheat on my taxes and have always paid my fair share or a bit more.

      • Dale, I am a little short of cash but I have a good horse that I could trade for the beachfront property. I think that horses are going make a comeback for personal transportation. The emissions can be used for fertilizer.

    • In addition to the false equivalency of cars and aircraft, you obviously do not live in California where the greenies have pushed electricity costs to $0.33kwh on a grid that has blackouts and causes fires regularly. They intend the same for the rest of the US, making the dream of electric flight even more impossible financially than physics does.

      None of these electric aircraft companies are realistic about the cost of green electricity, without which the ‘pollution’ source just shifts from the air to the ground.

  3. Electric cars and electric airplanes–not quite the same.

    Electric cars are relatively light weight–but able to carry the relatively high weight of batteries. Airplanes–not so much.

    Unlike airplanes, Electric cars don’t usually have to drive for hours at a time.

    Unlike airplanes, electric cars don’t have to carry enough reserve “fuel” or “electricity” to hold–or divert to a a destination quite a distance away.

    A private electric car has the luxury of being able to recharge overnight. A commercial electric aircraft may be at the gate only a few minutes before dispatching on the next leg. Not only do the economics not work, but imagine an entire commercial airport with gates filled with recharging airplanes.

    Creating an electric bicycle was relatively easy. Electric cars haven’t made that much of an inroad–according to treehugger.com, less than 1% of vehicles on the road today are electric. Consider that some of the first “horseless carriages” 120 years ago were electric–yet electric cars STILL aren’t popular. “Electric commercial aircraft by the end of the decade?” You have only a little more than 7 years to accomplish that.

    There is the “size issue.” Again–an electric bicycle needs only a small battery. Electric cars have batteries far larger. Why don’t you see ELECTRIC OVER-THE-ROAD TRUCKS? Because the size and weight of the batteries–the extended downtime for charging, the limited range all make it impractical for a vehicle that has to be on the road (instead of charging at the gate) to make money–just like a commercial airplane. To continue the analogy–why don’t you see battery-powered ships on oceans or rivers? After all, UNLIKE an airplane, they would be able to carry the heavy batteries–and they spend enough time in port to recharge–BUT THE ECONOMICS DO NOT MAKE SENSE.

    Unlike cars, aircraft have to meet FAA specifications. Considering how long it took the FAA to certify a simple change in aircrft fuels–how long do you think it will take them to come up with certification standards for electric commercial aircraft–THEN certify those standards?

  4. Electric airplanes. Efficient? Not particularly since they carry around a heavy battery through all stages of flight. That onboard generator will be blasting away 100% all the time, you can bet on that. 125 miles range? What a joke and a bad one at that.

  5. What about thermal runaway for lithium batteries? Aircraft operate in a wide variety of temperature extremes. Oh and the 125 mile range? What a joke and we have to crank up the fossil fuel generator to extend that range. By the time you drive to the airport, go through all the TSA security jam, get to the gate and board, you would be there in the old fashion dinosaur remnant burning CAR! And to the oh so virtuous environmentalists, how about all that strip mining for lithium and the environmental impact of that plus the battery disposal? This is stupid on steroids! Gimme a break and will never step foot on one….

  6. Was the Fort Tri-Motor efficient? Practical? How many early aircraft designs didn’t make it? The F4U Corsair with the P&W R-2800 was successful; the Curtis XF14C with the Lycoming XH-2470 was not.

    I think we tend to forget history is littered (sometimes literally) with dead-end and marginal aircraft. It seems to be a natural law that progress requires a serious challenge; the evolution of aircraft forced by war, for example. Unfortunately, the good idea of electric aircraft is being forced by a process that subordinates good science to political goals; the resulting unhappiness caused by this forcing tends to obscure the real advantages a practical electric aircraft offers. If history is our guide, R&D will overcome the challenges electric aircraft are facing today and deliver that practical electric aircraft. In the meantime, we can only watch and shake our heads.

    • ” the good idea of electric aircraft…”
      We need to separate the fan-boy support for a propulsion system from the business of flight. Electric aircraft are only a good idea if they drop in as the best solution for a specific purpose at hand. They are not a good idea if, as we see in this case, they make a plane heavier and less range.

      • Electric motors in aircraft are not the problem. It’s the battery. And with the periodic table as a cruel mistress it’s an insurmountable obstacle.

        IF someone wanted an electric airplane, a hydrogen fuel cell would work but still not be better than a normal engine.

  7. But, but, but…what if there is no sustainable aviation fuel available and they have to burn Jet-A? That could queer the whole deal. I clearly have a problem with the whole annoyingly transparent virtue signaling that essentially undermines the veracity of just about anything being offered.

  8. I will again tell you that electric aircraft are coming and not just to keep the “tree huggers” happy. It is going to happen because of the strongest driver of all — economics. NASA predicted that what you need for regional aircraft (think 737 size aircraft with a 800 to 1000 mile range) is a battery with 600 Whr/Kg. The best of the current Lithium Ion batteries have about 260 Whr/kg. Howeer, we are going to have solid lithium battereis with more than 400 Whr/kg soon and we already have prototype Lithium Sulfur batteries that have more than 600 kWhr/kg. The Eviation Alice is a 11-place battery electric plane with a projected range or more than 400 NM (with IRF reserve). The prototype is in taxi testing and is supposed to fly soon but until it flies and has proven range, etc I will withhold any “told you so” comments. I am not completely ignorant on this subject as I am advisor for university students building a battery electric race car (FormulaSAE Electric) and a year ago worked on a NASA/DARPA project to work on integrated design software for electric motors. We were given a goal of designing an axial flux motor with 10 Kw/kg (~6 hp/lb). Electric powertrains are considerably more efficient than turbine engines and the airframes will also need to be redesigned to be more efficient

    Yes, it easier to build electric bikes as most people probably do not want to ride more than 20 miles (I will point out that when I was in my early 30s, I rode my pedal bike more than 250 miles in a day and twice I tried to ride pedal my bike from Boston to Montreal on a weekend — I came up short but not by much and might have made it with better route planning). Anyway electric cars are easier than trucks and trucks are easier than aircraft. But all are coming. Both GM and Ford have announced that they will phase out IC engines by 2035 and electric shorter haul trucks are already available. The big driver will economics.

    • “Electric powertrains are considerably more efficient than turbine engines”

      Electric powertrains are 40x heavier than equivalent turbine powertrains, so they are objectively not more weight efficient. In your experience with bikes and cars and trucks weight is supported by wheels which costs nearly nothing. In the air the weight factor you ignore is the determinant of a successful design.

  9. I’m sure that any of these paper airplanes companies that take the money from would-be investors would be glad to sell the would-be investors STOCK in the company (but MOST companies that have new “sure-thing technology” would rather hold onto it UNTIL IT IS PROVEN–THEN SELL IT!

    In the meantime, we have a “paper airplane” that has never flown–to be powered by a battery that exists in theory only–with dubious performance figures–and no proven market (as the article mentions, 300 copies of the “previous 19 seat aircraft” were never delivered–with NO FAA CERTIFICATION. PERHAPS the reason these companies don’t “go public” with these “breakthrough ideas” is that the SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION WOULD HAVE THEM UP ON CHARGES OF FRAUD WHEN THEY CAN’T DELIVER.

    Perhaps, instead of giving publicity to these would-be-airplanes by covering them as “news”–AvWeb should have an “under development” section–so readers could decide for themselves whether these concepts are credible without potential harm.

    Given that there isn’t even a path from the FAA on certification, it’s hardly a “con”fidence-builder (more like a “con” game.) If someone is a REAL BELIEVER in this company and its press release, they should mortgage everything they have and “get in on the ground floor” on a market that those in the industry are ignoring. There are a lot of maxims and aphorisms for this kind of activity–but P.T. Barnum probably said it best nearly 150 years ago. If you don’t know who P.T. Barnum was–Google the name, and you will see the connection.

    • Personally, I would not invest in these companies unless you had enough “mad money” so that losing it would not make a difference. I expect that a number of these companies will fail (the pioneers that end up with the arrows in the back, etc). I really do not understand the eVTOL market and I suspect that most of thos companies will fail. However, at the same time, I do expect that we will have successful electric planes maybe from Boeing or Airbus although they will take their time in getting there.

  10. The driver is the government(s) and the green lobby and the court of social media induced public opinion. The cost is paid not just by the adopters but all taxpayers as we get saddled with the expense of these initiatives.

    I am also an avid competitive endurance cyclist but I share no enthusiasm for ebikes. I don’t object as long as people buy them with their own money and operate them safely and not on dedicated MUPs. I even concede someday, God willing in the distant future, I would benefit from having one.