The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

During 2021, Sweden-based Heart Aerospace made significant progress in its plans to bring the 19-seat ES-19 electric regional airliner to market in 2026. The company logged provisional sales commitments from airlines including Finnair and United, with the latter having invested in the venture.

Heart's engineering team has conducted testing with a ground-based prototype of the complete electric propulsion system. The program plan calls for a full-scale prototype, which will be quite close to the series production design, to start flight tests in mid-2024. The aircraft will be certified under EASA's CS23 standards. The manufacturer is in the early stages of applying for design organization approval.

Heart has developed its propulsion system in-house and is using automotive industry batteries as its power source. MT Propeller is providing the ES-19’s seven-blade propellers. The company is in talks with several aerospace groups with a view to source cockpit systems and flight controls.

The company believes its conventional fixed-wing aircraft with aluminum fuselage will be relatively straightforward to certificate. With zero emissions, it is expected to deliver 75 percent lower energy costs than conventionally-fueled aircraft, as well as 50 percent lower maintenance costs and 50 percent lower noise. These comparisons are based on current turboprop airliners such as the Dash 8, compared on a per-passenger basis and operating from a 2,460-foot runway. 

Spain's Aernnova will jointly design the aircraft and has deployed an engineering team to work on design for the wing, fuselage, and empennage of the ES-19. The aircraft will feature an aluminum airframe with retractable landing gear, a high wing, a T-shaped empennage and a non-cylindrical fuselage that Heart says will maximize space in the cabin.

According to Heart, the initial production versions of the ES-19 will have a range of just under 250 miles. Last year, the company demonstrated the first version of its proposed electric propulsion system, which incorporates a 400-kW electric motor, lithium-ion batteries, and a motor controller.

In June 2022, Heart changed its strategy to certify the ES-19 from the CS-23 certification process to the CS-25 process. As a result of the similarities between EASA CS-25 and the FAA's 14 CFR Part 25 standards, the change will allow for the ES-19 to be more easily delivered to the U.S. market.

Outlook

Our objective assessment of this program’s probable success.

FutureFlight assesses the probability of success for a new aircraft program by considering the following criteria:

  • Total investment funds available in proportion to the anticipated cost of getting an aircraft certified and in service
  • A company’s in-house capability (in terms of numbers of engineers, technical staff, and customer support teams)
  • The past experience of the company and its senior leadership in developing aircraft
  • The caliber and past experience of key program partners
  • Whether key aircraft systems have been selected and are available for use
  • Whether the preliminary design review has been completed
  • Whether the design for the full-scale prototype has been completed
  • Whether the type certification process has been formally initiated with an appropriate regulator
  • Whether the company has achieved a first flight with a full-scale prototype
  • The number of hours logged in a flight test program
  • Whether type certification has been achieved
  • The number of orders and commitment received for the aircraft
  • Whether the company has adequate facilities to begin series production of the aircraft
Our Methodology

Heart's prospects were boosted in 2021 with fresh investment from United Airlines, which has committed to operating its 19-seat ES-19 aircraft. It also holds commitments from Finnair. The appointment of partners such as aerospace engineering group Aernnova and MT Propeller has increased the resources available to the ambitious program.

ES-19 Models

Heart ES-19 Specifications

local regional Fixed Wing

Performance

  • Passenger Capacity
    19
  • Range
    250 mi
  • Cruise Speed
    n/a
  • Powerplant Type
    propeller
  • Power Source
    electric
  • Endurance
    n/a
  • Max Altitude
    n/a
  • Takeoff Distance
    2,500 ft
  • Landing Distance
    2,500 ft
  • Empty Weight
    n/a
  • MGTOW
    18,920 lb
  • Payload Weight
    n/a

Dimensions

  • Length
    n/a
  • Width
    n/a
  • Height
    n/a
  • Wingspan
    n/a

While zero emissions is the driver, the ES-19 is also designed to improve the economic viability of air transport service to remote regions. The ES-19 is a 19-seater, four-engine, high-wing airliner of aluminum airframe construction. Heart believes it can have a prototype flying by 2022 and achieve certification and entry-into-service in 2025.

According to founder Anders Forslund, the ES-19 will have a maximum takeoff weight of around 18,920 pounds (8,600 kg) and would be certificated under the EASA CS23 standard. Its batteries would weigh three metric tons and allow it to fly up to 250 miles (400km) with a 45-minute reserve.

Forslund says it will have the lowest carbon footprint of any regional air transport aircraft and is a scalable design. Heart also says it will offer a corporate version of the aircraft.