United Invests In Swedish Electric Airplane Startup

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

Reducing carbon emissions from commercial aircraft is hard. Unlike cars, trucks, and buses, where the extra weight of batteries is more or less irrelevant, weight is absolutely critical when it comes to planes. If 747s were made of cast iron, the history of flight would be short indeed.

It’s simple physics. According to Jet Pack Aviation, jet fuel has an energy density of 9.6 kWh per liter. By comparison, the battery in a Tesla Model 3 has an energy density of 207 wH per kilogram. That means jet fuel has about 50 times as much energy by weight that the best batteries available today.

That’s not the end of the story, of course. Electric motors are far more efficient than jet engines, so that narrows the advantage a bit. Even so, a thousand pounds of jet fuel yields about 14 times more power than a thousand pounds of batteries.

What that means is that electric aircraft are not going to be shuttling 500 people non-stop across the Pacific Ocean any time soon. However, they may be be able to fly a dozen or more over short distances fairly soon. Swedish electric airplane startup Heart Aerospace says its ES-19 will be ready to begin commercial service on flights of 250 miles or less by 2026.

Unites Airlines, through its venture capital subsidiary, has agreed to purchase 100 ES-19 electric aircraft from Heart and anticipates having them transporting paying passengers before the end of the decade. Mesa Airlines, a subsidiary of United, has also signed up for 100 of the electric airplanes. Heart has also attracted investments from Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

With a capacity of 19 passengers, the ES-19 is significantly larger than many other electric airplanes for commercial use, including the 9-passenger Alice from Eviation. For passengers, electric airplanes hold the promise of cheaper fares and a much quieter trip than they are accustomed to on today’s short-haul turbo-prop aircraft. Zero direct emissions while in flight is just an added bonus.

You can read the whole article HERE.

Source: Clean Technica