The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Heart Unveils Plans for 30-seat Electric Regional Airliner with New Backers

Heart Aerospace has doubled down on its plans to bring an electric regional airliner to market, unveiling a design for a 30-seat ES-30 model, which will replace the 19-seat ES-19 model the Swedish start-up announced in 2020. During a September 15 event at Heart’s Gothenburg headquarters, Air Canada and Swedish aerospace and defense group Saab each committed to investing $5 million in the venture.

Air Canada also placed a provisional order for 30 of the ES-30s, which Heart says will be powered mainly by four battery-driven electric motors, but now bolstered by a pair of turbo generators to meet reserve energy requirements “without cannibalizing range.” The new model is expected to offer carriers an all-electric range of 200 km (125 miles), with an extended full-payload range of twice that distance and the potential for longer hybrid-powered flights to 800 km (500 miles) with 25 passengers on board, taking account of standard airline fuel reserves.

So far, Heart has released few details about the new design and which of the existing program partners, including avionics supplier Garmin and aerostructures specialist Aernnova, will remain involved with the relaunched electric airliner program. It has not stated, for instance, where it will source the two new turbogenerators.

Among the most obvious changes from the design of the ES-19 is a large additional compartment in the lower fuselage that seems likely to be for carrying batteries. Drawings also reveal new spars connecting the wing to the fuselage.

United Airlines and its Mesa Air regional partner, which previously committed to buying up to 300 ES-19s, have now opted to take the larger ES-30 in its place. According to Heart, several other prospective customers that signed earlier letters of intent (LOI) for the 19-seater have also said they will take the new model. These companies include Braathens Regional Airlines, Icelandair, SAS, and New Zealand-based Sounds Air.

Swedish leasing group Rockton has signed an LOI for 40 ES-90s. Heart notes that it now has 96 commitments for the electric airliner, which the company says will enter service in 2028—two years later than the date projected for the ES-19.

This week’s announcement did not specify what role Saab might have in the development and production work for the new aircraft. The group has a long heritage of building regional aircraft, such as the Saab 340 and 2000 twin turboprops.

“We are thrilled to have two such strong partners as Saab and Air Canada join our mission to electrify regional air travel,” said Heart Aerospace founder and CEO Anders Forslund. “Saab is synonymous with aerospace, and our partnership will not only support our program but help us to become a part of the proud Swedish aerospace heritage. Air Canada is a strategically important partner with one of the world’s largest networks operated by regional turboprops, and a progressive, future-leaning company.”

Heart also announced plans to build extensive facilities for advancing electric aviation technology at Gothenburg’s Säve Airport. The new Northern Runway campus will accommodate the company’s offices, production, and flight test facilities, as well as provide space for partner companies in new sustainable buildings. The facility is part of a larger Gateway Säve development owned by the Castellum group.

Heart Aerospace is developing an electric aviation development center in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Heart Aerospace is building an electric aviation development center in Gothenburg, Sweden, as part of a plan to develop its 30-seat ES-30 regional airliner. (Image: Heart)

“Gothenburg has distinguished itself as a driving force within electrification, with world-class research facilities like the Swedish electric transport laboratory, SEEL, Chalmers University of Technology, and a large cluster of companies focused on battery and electric vehicle development,” said Heart’s chief operating officer, Sofia Graflund. “The ambition that Castellum and the city of Gothenburg have for Gateway Säve is truly unique and that is why we have decided to establish a new industry here.”

Heart employs 130 people and expects to expand its workforce to around 500 by 2025. It intends to start test flights with a full-scale ES-30 prototype in 2026.

The company has established an industry advisory board for the ES-30 program, consisting of leaders from airlines, leasing companies, and airports from around the world. In addition to existing customers for the aircraft, Cebu Pacific, Republic Airways, Christchurch Airport, London City Airport, Vmo Aircraft Leasing, and Wellington Airport are represented on the board.