Swedish electric airplane manufacturer Heart Aerospace unveiled significant design updates to its first electric aircraft.
The new airplane design, called the ES-30, is a regional electric airplane with a capacity of 30 passengers and it replaces the company’s earlier 19-seat design, the ES-19. It is driven by electric motors powered by batteries, which allows the airplane to operate with zero emissions and low noise.
The ES-30 has a comfortable three-abreast flat-floor cabin seating and it features a galley and a lavatory. Cabin stowage and overhead bins will add to the large external baggage and cargo compartment and provide airlines with network flexibility.
The airplane will also include a reserve-hybrid configuration, consisting of two turbo generators powered by sustainable aviation fuel. The reserve-hybrid system is installed to secure reserve energy requirements without cannibalizing battery range, and it can also be used during cruise on longer flights to complement the electrical power provided by the batteries.
This gives the airplane a fully electric range of 200 kilometers, an extended range of 400 kilometers with 30 passengers, and flexibility to fly up to 800 kilometers with 25 passengers, all-inclusive of typical airline reserves.
Air Canada and Saab have each invested USD 5 million in Heart Aerospace. In addition to its investment, Air Canada has also placed a purchase order for 30 ES-30 aircraft.
SAS signs Letter of Support with Heart Aerospace for the option to add their new electric aircraft, ES-30 to the SAS regional aircraft fleet.
In addition to those commitments, many of the ES-19 letters of intent (LOI) holders have already updated their respective letters to reflect the ES-30. These include the Nordic airlines Braathens Regional Airlines (BRA), Icelandair and SAS as well as New Zealand’s Sounds Air. Rockton, a Swedish-based lessor who has made it their mission to focus on sustainable solutions for the Industry, has just signed an LOI with for up to 40 airplanes.
In total, Heart Aerospace has LOIs for 96 ES-30s.
The ES-30 is a cost efficient airplane that, on top of significant fuel savings, is cheaper to operate than a larger turboprop due to its electric propulsion. The airplane has also been designed to accommodate battery technology evolution, which will increase its fully electric range and make it even more cost efficient over time.
The ES-30 is expected to enter into service in 2028.
- 30 seats
- 200 km all electric
- 400 km electric + hybrid
- 800 km electric + hybrid 25pax
- 4x electric motors
- Batteries (primary)
- Reserve-Hybrid Turbogenerators
- 20.000 ft
- 1.100 m
Turn around time
- 30 min (fast charge)
Enter into service
Croatia, PSO and ES-30
Inside Croatia, on the PSO lines on which Trade Air flies, aircraft with up to 30 seats are used, which is why the ES-30 aircraft seems to be the ideal choice for the respective PSO lines due to the same capacity. With a capacity of 30 passengers, this aircraft has enough range to be able to connect all airports within Croatia. For some airports, a reduced passenger cabin capacity would have to be used to increase the range, but for most lines, the range with battery and hybrid drive is sufficient with the maximum passenger cabin capacity. The use of electricity is also a big advantage, which would reduce the amount of emitted harmful gases, and join aviation to become CO2 neutral. However, if that aircraft is also cheaper to operate than the existing turboprop aircraft, then the operations would become cheaper and there is a possibility for a smaller amount of money that would need to be allocated for PSO lines. Of course, the ES-30 aircraft is not expected to take over Croatia Airlines routes due to insufficient capacity, but it seems to be an ideal aircraft for connecting other airports, especially coastal ones.
The following maps show two circles, of which the smaller circle shows the battery-powered range only (200 kilometers), while the larger circle shows the battery- and hybrid-powered range (400 kilometers). All airports in Croatia that could have them were taken into account.
From Zagreb, the plane can only get to Rijeka with battery power, while hybrid power would have to be used for all other airports, although Pula, Zadar, Lošinj, and Osijek are in the border area, where hybrid power would only have to be used to a lesser extent. . Hybrid drive must be used to Brač and Split, while it is possible to fly to Dubrovnik, but there would have to be restrictions on the number of passengers.
Although Varaždin is not included in the PSO lines, with this type of aircraft it would be possible to connect Varaždin with cities on the coast, and possibly Osijek.
Split, Zadar i Brač
Split, Zadar, and Brač airports are ideally positioned to connect with airports within Croatia without the need to reduce capacity. Split should have a much better connection with other coastal airports, because traveling by road, and especially by rail, to the cities in the northern part of the Adriatic takes a very long time.
Osijek is somewhat worse positioned compared to other airports, and it is not possible to fly to any airport on battery power, only with less use of hybrid power it is possible to fly to Zagreb and Varaždin. The only challenge is on the flight to Pula, which is located at the limit of the range with a hybrid drive, and there would potentially have to be a limit on the number of passengers on the plane.
Pula, Rijeka i Lošinj
From Pula airport, it is possible to fly to several airports exclusively with battery power, but for flights to Dubrovnik and Osijek, restrictions on the number of passengers are possible. Lošinj and Rijeka are a little closer to Osijek, so there should be no problem with the flight there, while Dubrovnik is on the border of the flight at full capacity. But for those airports, many destinations in Italy are in flight with full passenger capacity and hybrid propulsion. The only challenge at Lošinj airport is the short runway.
Dubrovnik is in the worst position of the other airports in Croatia. Zagreb, Pula, and Varaždin are more than 400 kilometers away, and therefore the capacity of the passenger cabin would have to be reduced, while there would be no restrictions on the capacity of the passenger cabin according to the other airports. Because Dubrovnik is an air destination, regional connectivity is also very important, to enable tourists to travel quickly to other tourist centers on our coast.
It is very important to mention that, in addition to connecting Croatia, this aircraft could also connect smaller airports in neighboring countries within a radius of 400 kilometers (and more). We could especially focus on connecting Italy with our coast, because the need, at least in the tourist season, for travel across the Adriatic is very high. The connection between Austria, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, and Serbia could also be included. Connections should focus on the island’s airports, as road travel also includes ferry travel where a lot of time can be wasted waiting. Or connecting cities where the road takes a long time due to poor infrastructure.
In a conclusion, it can be said that it is still an aircraft on paper, its specifications are also still only the figures that the manufacturer has set for himself, and that he wants to achieve. Once the prototype is produced and begins flight testing, much more detailed information about the aircraft’s performance will be available. But certainly, this is a very interesting concept with electric power, and if it can be a very short “turnaround” and fast charging, it will certainly be an interesting aircraft for short regional lines. There is certainly a need for such an aircraft in Croatia, and we can hope that we will have a branched network of lines that will help in the best possible transport connection of Croatia.