Sweden strives for fossil-free flying with electric commercial aircraft
Updated 01:38, 05-Oct-2022

The car industry is already in over-drive about electric power. But what about aviation?

The skies are about to get greener and it's happening - and happening fast. Swedish company Heart Aerospace has unveiled plans for a 30-seater, electric commercial aircraft that could be in service by 2028.

"We need to decarbonize, and we need to do it fast," said the company's CEO Anders Forslund.

"By 2050, we want to be fully carbon neutral. For aviation, that's a massive challenge. It's not going to happen overnight, but we believe it's hugely important that just because it's not happening overnight doesn't mean we can wait until tomorrow."

Gothenburg-based Heart was formed after neighboring Norway announced plans in 2028 to achieve fossil-free flight by 2040. Investors include Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

The ES-30 is being built to fly 200 kilometers on battery power alone. A back-up hybrid turbo generator, powered by sustainable aviation fuel, could double that range to 400 km.

United Airlines and Mesa Air Group have already ordered 200 aircraft, while Air Canada has placed an order for 30 airplanes and invested $5 million in the company.

"If you want to compare electric aircraft to conventional aircraft on range, well, we're not there yet," added Forslund. "But what we can offer is we can offer low noise, zero emissions, which means that not only is it good for climate, but also for your local environment, for the pollution near airports."

Many projects to develop greener aircraft are under way around the globe. UK-based Vertical Aerospace has had over 1,350 orders for its electric, four passenger, vertical takeoff aircraft. Aerospace giant Airbus is exploring hydrogen-powered engines.

Electric planes in Sweden – for now – have just two seats, with flights limited to about one hour. 

It's hoped this plane will be active in the skies by 2028. /Heart Aerospace
It's hoped this plane will be active in the skies by 2028. /Heart Aerospace

It's hoped this plane will be active in the skies by 2028. /Heart Aerospace

However, inspired by the country's climate-conscious "flygskam" - or "flight shame" - movement, made popular by local activist Greta Thunberg, Sweden's aviation bosses have established a charging network stretching up the west coast. There are plans to extend further north into Norway.

Sweden has committed to making all its domestic flights fossil-free by 2030, and all flights departing the country - both domestic and foreign - fossil-free by 2045.

"If not here, where else should we be first with zero emissions aviation?" asks Fredrik Kampfe from the Swedish Aviation Industry Group.

"We also have a market in Scandinavia and a geography that simply fits very well. In northern Norway, we have these short routes of maybe 14, 15 minutes, up to 20 minutes between airports, that will be a perfect first market."

Source(s): AP

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