From Iceland — Icelandair Is Aiming For A Thirty-Seater Electric Plane For Domestic Flights

Icelandair Is Aiming For A Thirty-Seater Electric Plane For Domestic Flights

Published September 19, 2022

Photo by
Heart Aerospace

Icelandair announced on Friday that the company intends to participate in developing an electric plane with Heart Aerospace, reports Vísir.

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The plane will be an updated version of a smaller engine plane that the Swedish aircraft manufacturer had already been developing. The aim is for the new aircraft to enter passenger service in 2028, six years from now.

Icelandair and Heart Aerospace had previously signed a memorandum of understanding for a nineteen-seater electric plane, the ES-19, which was to be ready in 2026. A new version of the plane, the ES-30, will replace it, and will have thirty seats, Icelandair says. The plane will be used for domestic flights in Iceland.

The new aircraft will be 22.7 meters long, 5.2 meters longer than the previous one. The wingspan has increased from 23 meters on the ES-19 to 30.77 meters on the ES-30.

The passenger compartment will be considerably larger, expanding from 1.46 meters to 2.21 meters, which allows for a 2+1 seating arrangement in the ES-30 compared to a 1+1 seating arrangement in the ES-19. Although specified for 30 seats, the space also offers a 34-seat version with a narrower space between seats. Its design also assumes that later it will be possible to build a longer version with up to 50 seats.

The increase in the number of passenger seats from nineteen to thirty is not the only change. Previously, it was expected to run solely on electricity, but now it is expected that it will be a hybrid engine and can also run on jet fuel.

Anders Forslund, founder and CEO of Heart Aerospace, explains the change by saying that the ES-19 engine was originally only intended for the Nordic domestic market. After its construction was announced, wishes came from all over the world.

“The ES-19 was customized for the Nordic markets. To create an airplane that can fly everywhere, it had to be modified,” says Forslund.

The luggage compartment had to be changed. The weight of the batteries was demanding and at the same time the safety requirements of at least 45 minutes of reserve power, or 100 nautical miles, called for an upgrade to a larger engine.

Heart Aerospace and Icelandair’s presentation of the aircraft states that its range will be around 200 kilometers with 30 passengers on electricity alone, 400 kilometers with a combination of electricity and sustainable jet fuel, but up to 800 kilometers with 25 passengers.

“In this way, the aircraft could be used on all domestic flight routes and significantly reduce carbon emissions,” says Icelandair.

Heart Aerospace also anticipates that flight range will increase as battery technology advances. By 2035 it will cover 300 kilometers on electricity and 500 kilometers as a hybrid, and by 2040 it will cover 400 kilometers on electricity and 600 kilometers as a hybrid.

It is estimated that it will need a runway of 1,100 meters long, fly at an altitude of up to 20,000 feet and take thirty minutes to charge the batteries between flights with a quick charge. With electric motors, it will be very quiet.

On the same day that Icelandair signed the letter of intent for the larger plane, Heart Aerospace reported that the Canadian airline Air Canada and the Swedish aircraft manufacturer Saab had joined the shareholder group, as well as the fact that Air Canada had ordered thirty planes. Previously, United Airlines and SAS had become shareholders.

United Airlines and Mesa Air Group had previously ordered a total of 200 ES-19 electric aircraft and upgraded the order to the ES-30. Heart Aerospace’s press release states that, in addition, a number of companies have signed a letter of intent for the purchase of a total of 96 planes. Among others, the Nordic airlines Icelandair, Braathens and SAS are in that group.

Heart Aerospace also announced on Thursday the decision that the planes would be built in a new factory, which the company is building at Säve Airport in Gothenburg. The company’s employees currently number 130, but the number is growing rapidly and it is estimated that they will reach 500 by 2025.

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