SAS deal brings all electric flight a step closer

Scandinavian airline, SAS, has become one of a number of airlines to have signed up to a new partnership which will pave the way for the use of electric aircraft on a number of its routes.

The airline has agreed a Letter of Support with Heart Aerospace for the option to add their new electric aircraft, ES-30 to the SAS regional aircraft fleet.

It came as Heart Aerospace unveiled significant design updates to its first electric aircraft and confirmed Air Canada, and Saab, the Swedish aerospace and defence company, as new minority shareholders.

The agreement with SAS was described as having the “potential of being a significant step on SAS’ sustainability journey, enabling zero-emission flights on routes within Scandinavia”.

Under the letter if support it is planned that the electric aircraft will be certified for commercial flights by 2028.

“Together with the entire industry, we have the responsibility to make air travel more sustainable. SAS is dedicated to transforming aviation so that coming generations can continue connecting the world and enjoy the benefits of travel, but with a more sustainable footprint. The letter of support with Heart Aerospace is an important step in that direction,” explained SAS president & CEO Anko van der Werff.

Under the terms of the agreement, SAS will also be part of Heart Aerospace’s new Industry Advisory Board and will assist in defining the requirements for the ES-30 aircraft. It described the partnership between SAS and Heart Aerospace as “the next step toward securing more sustainable air travel for generations to come”.

The two companies already have close links after SAS joined forces with Heart Aerospace in 2019 to drive the development of electric aircraft.

“The electric aircraft will be a great complement to our existing fleet serving shorter and thinner routes in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, in a more sustainable way,” van der Werff added. “The innovation and new technology this represents will take us towards our future goal of becoming a zero-emission industry.”

The ES-30 has a fully electric range of 200 kilometres. A reserve-hybrid system is installed to secure reserve energy requirements without cannibalising battery range, and it can also be used during cruise on longer flights to complement the electrical power provided by the batteries. This gives the ES-30 an extended range of 400 kilometres with 30 passengers, and flexibility to fly up to 800 kilometres with 25 passengers, all-inclusive of typical airline reserves.

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

“Air Canada is pleased to partner with Heart Aerospace on the development of this revolutionary aircraft. We have been working hard with much success to reduce our footprint, but we know that meeting our net-zero emissions goals will require new technology such as the ES-30. We have every confidence that the team at Heart Aerospace has the expertise to deliver on the ES-30’s promise of a cleaner and greener aviation future,” said Michael Rousseau, President and Chief Executive of Air Canada.

Forslund added: “The ES-30 is an electric airplane that the industry can actually use. We have designed a cost efficient airplane that allows airlines to deliver good service on a wide range of routes.

“With the ES-30 we can start cutting emissions from air travel well before the end of this decade and the response from the market has been fantastic.”