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United Airlines Set to Acquire 100 Electric Airliners

The Chicago carrier will invest an undisclosed amount of money in the new electric airplanes, which must first meet United's safety, business and operating requirements before being put into usage.

United Airplane
(TNS) — United Airlines on Tuesday said it will buy 100 ES-19 aircraft from the Sweden-based electric aircraft startup Heart Aerospace.

The Chicago carrier will invest an undisclosed amount in the new airplanes, which must first meet United's safety, business and operating requirements.

Bill Gates' Breakthrough Energy Ventures will also invest an undisclosed amount as will Arizona's Mesa Airlines, which will add 100 ES-19 aircraft to its fleet.

"Electric aircraft are happening now—the technology is already here," CEO of Heart Aerospace Anders Forslund said in the release. "We couldn't be prouder to be partnering with United, Mesa and BEV on taking our ES-19 aircraft to market. I can't imagine a stronger coalition of partners to advance our mission to electrify short-haul air travel."

The ES-19, a 19-seat electric airplane, has the potential to fly customers up to 250 miles.

The ES-19 will be larger than its all-electric competitors and will operate on the same types of batteries used in electric cars. By using electric motors instead of jet engines, and batteries instead of jet fuel, Heart's ES-19 aircraft will have zero operational emissions.

The ES-19 could hit the market as early as 2026.

For the carriers, the move will reduce emissions to meet increased customer demand and government requirements for cleaner energy to reduce global warming.

For United, the ES-19 could operate on more than 100 of its regional routes out of most of its hubs, including Chicago O'Hare International Airport to Purdue University Airport and San Francisco International Airport to Modesto City-County Airport.

"We expect the short-haul regional air travel market to play a key role in the evolution of the electric aircraft," Michael Leskinen, United's Vice President Corp Development & Investor Relations, said in the release. "As battery technology improves, larger-gauge aircraft should become viable but we're not going to wait to begin the journey."

United has set a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 100 percent by 2050, without relying on traditional carbon offsets.

© 2021 the Houston Chronicle. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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