Air Canada orders 30 electric-hybrid planes with a range of up to 500 miles

New aircraft are expected to enter service by 2028.
Ameya Paleja
Air Canada.
An Air Canada aircraft.

Boarding1Now/iStock 

Air Canada has agreed to order 30 hybrid electric aircraft from Sweden-based Heart Aerospace, the airline said in a press release. Capable of flying on battery power alone, the aircraft are expected to reduce the airline's carbon emissions while providing operational benefits.

This is the second time that Heart Aerospace has secured an order from a North American carrier. In July last year, United Airlines signed an agreement to procure 100 electric planes from the Swedish manufacturer. As Interesting Engineering had reported then, United Airlines picked the ES-19, the all-electric aircraft that can carry 19 passengers seated in a 1+1 configuration with three seats in the last row.

The ES-19 is expected to be in service by 2026. However, Air Canada has chosen a larger aircraft, the ES-30, which can typically ferry 30 passengers.

The ES-30 hybrid-electric aircraft

According to Heart Aerospace's webpage, the ES-30 will be propelled by four electric motors and have a service ceiling of 20,000 feet (6 km). The aircraft will primarily be powered by batteries with the ability to fly up to 124 miles (200 km).

Beyond this distance, the reserve-hybrid turbogenerators will kick in and provide an additional range of 124 miles (200 km). By slightly reducing the passenger number to 25, the range can be doubled to nearly 500 miles (800 km), the manufacturer claims.

When operated on battery power alone, the aircraft has zero emissions and can deliver a 50 percent reduction in emissions per seat compared to fossil fuel-powered turboprops. The company is also working on using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in the reserve-hybrid turbogenerators, which could lead to up to 90 percent reduction in emissions.

The electric motors on the aircraft also promise low noise during take-offs and landings, while the 30-minute fast charge of the battery pack makes the operation of the aircraft hassle-free.

Heart Aerospace is also promising better profitability for airlines since the maintenance of electric motors is comparatively cheaper, and electricity generated using renewable sources is expected to be cheaper in the future, as against fossil fuel prices that skyrocketed in the recent past.

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Investing in the future

Air Canada's agreement also goes beyond the purchase of the aircraft as it has also gained a US$5 million equity stake in Heart Aerospace. This is similar to the agreement that Heart Aerospace signed with United last year, which gave the plane manufacturer a purse of $35 million to develop its aircraft.

Both the ES-19 and the ES-30 are currently under development and are expected to be rolled out in 2026 and 2028. The two aircraft will also allow airlines to begin reducing their carbon emissions at least on regional routes before the end of the decade.

Earlier in July this year, American Airlines placed an order for electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) aircraft from Vertical Aerospace. Earlier this month, United Airlines agreed to buy eVTOLs from Embraer, Business Insider reported.

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