US-based United Airlines and its regional partner Mesa Airlines have signed a conditional purchase agreement with Heart Aerospace for a total of 200 electric-powered regional aircraft capable of carrying 19 passengers. United and Mesa Airlines have ordered one hundred of the future ES-19s, and the two have optioned an additional one hundred. The order is conditional on the aircraft meeting United’s safety, business and operational requirements.
The airline’s venture capital firm, United Airlines Ventures, has invested in the Californian company that designed the plane, but the amount of the investment was not disclosed, nor was it disclosed whether an advance was paid when the conditional order was signed.
The Heart ES-19 will be an all-electric aircraft capable of carrying 19 passengers with a range of 400 kilometres. Four propeller-driven electric motors will be installed on the shoulder-wing aircraft, powered by lithium-ion batteries. The aircraft is scheduled to enter commercial service in 2026.
With these parameters, United could operate the aircraft on more than 100 routes. Heart’s announcement notes that 19-seat regional jets have been phased out of US airline routes in recent years because they were not economical to operate. Electric propulsion could change this, as the lower operating costs of the ES-19 will make it sustainable again for use on many routes. It could also bring the US airline closer to meeting its climate targets.