Heart Aerospace is flying the flag for electric short-haul aviation
”As a Swedish company, we can pave the way for electric aviation on a global scale. Our biggest risk is not being too aggressive and eager — it’s being too passive and too late” says founder Anders Forslund.
By ERIK SEDIN
November 16, 2021
This is an outtake from our mobility special that was originally published in Scandinavian MIND Issue 2 — The Great Tech Infusion in July 2021. The special investigates the modern-day traveller’s need to address the four pillars of transportation: time, price, comfort, and sustainability. We have listed the most interesting players within road, rail, air, and sea — from established companies to exciting start-ups.
We covered Heart Aerospace in our last issue, but just like couscous and Duran Duran, some things are too good not to repeat again. In 2026, the Swedish aeroplane manufacturer is launching the fully electric ES-19 aircraft, a 19-passenger airliner with a range of around 400 kilometres. But why only 19 seats?
— It’s all about the international aviation certificates! It’s a tougher certification basis for electric planes, and if we would have gone for 20 seats, that one extra seat creates even more difficult certification processes. 20 seats would basically mean the same amount of work as for a jumbo jet, and that means we wouldn’t start flying until 2032… We’re not a tech startup that can just start from a garage, unfortunately, says CEO and founder Anders Forslund.
Even though eVTOL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) taxis are being built and developed all over the world, the Heart Aerospace ES-19 has a world-leading take on traditional air travel — a way to allow shorter domestic and cross-border flights without the substantial CO2 emissions. Forslund explains that the ES-19 has a Scandinavian approach with a global mindset. The inhabitants of Indonesia fly ten times more than they did 10 years ago, simply because of the many short domestic trips they fly to get around the 13,000 different islands that the country sits on.
What about cold Scandinavian temperatures? Don’t batteries die easily in the cold?
— Batteries work like us humans. If we’re not warmed up and prepared for a big physical test, a sudden and strong start can be too draining. But fortunately, aviation is very planned and follows a schedule. An aeroplane is parked somewhere where it can be taken care of. A car or a phone is used more spontaneously, Forslund says.
Forslund is certain that a flight ticket with the ES-19 will be cheaper than a corresponding jet plane. Partly because the maintenance of jet motors has such a high price, and with subventions and climate premiums, Heart Aerospace can lower the costs even more.
— As a Swedish company we can pave the way for electric aviation on a global scale. Our biggest risk is not being too aggressive and eager — it’s being too passive and too late. But again, we need to handle all these certifications first.