Electric Airplanes Prepare for Flight
The quest for electric airplanes has officially begun.
We know that there has been a growing demand for electric vehicle initiatives worldwide, but another sector of travel is starting to focus on its future in an environmentally conscious world — air transportation. Some airline companies have begun to focus on electric airplanes and how to become leaders in air transportation in the years to come.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: UAL) and Mesa Air Group Inc. (NASDAQ: MESA) are investing in Heart Aerospace, a Swedish company that’s developing a 19-seat electric aircraft. Both airlines have agreed to order 100 of the planes from Heart Aerospace once they are built and meet the airlines’ specifications. Anders Forslund, CEO of Heart Aerospace, spoke about the partnership with UAL and MESA, saying:
I can’t imagine a stronger coalition of partners to advance our mission to electrify short-haul air travel. There’s [Breakthrough Energy Ventures] BEV — the world’s most influential climate fund. There’s United — one of the world’s largest airlines, who’s poised to be the global leader in decarbonizing air travel, and there’s Mesa, the largest operator of 19-seater aircraft history. This combination of near-term commercial viability and long-term climate investment philosophy is exactly what we need to make commercial electric air travel a reality.
This partnership is set to begin the transition to electric within air transportation. Even though it may seem small, it's taking a step in the right direction instead of waiting around until the technology supports bigger airplanes. After all, flights of less than 1,242 miles account for 43% of carbon dioxide emissions from global air travel. Electric aviation has the chance to reduce emissions, which would make electric planes a more sustainable and cost-effective alternative to traditional air travel.
Without a doubt, more and more consumers are realizing the impact that flying has on the environment. Airline companies are also aware of the impact and the need to find new ways to reduce carbon emissions from their planes.
It will be a slow transition, of course, to the point when the technology advances enough to allow electric planes to fly long distances, but for now the goal for some of these airlines is to focus on short travel distances. Investing in electric airplanes that fly shorter distances could actually improve business.
Right now, some areas throughout the country lack air service because the distance is short and probably not worth the cost for some airlines to fly less than 200 miles in distance. However, that leaves out a consumer demand.
An electric plane could meet this demand and have a limited impact on the environment as well. People who otherwise wouldn’t be able to travel shorter distances through the air could have that opportunity. Because of the high prices of plane tickets and limited airport connections, there are a lot of people for whom air travel isn't an option. That’s why incorporating electric airplanes that are designed to fly shorter distances would be ideal, and it wouldn’t leave the consumer with guilt over the environmental impact of their flight to a nearby location.
Carmichael Roberts, a member of Breakthrough Energy Ventures and founder and managing partner at Material Impact, said:
Aviation is such a critical piece of our global economy. At the same time, it’s a major source of carbon emissions and one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonize. We believe electric aircraft can be transformational in reducing the emissions of the industry, and enable low-cost, quiet, and clean regional travel on a broad scale.
Heart’s visionary team is developing an aircraft around its proprietary electric propulsion technology that will allow airlines to operate at a fraction of the cost of today and has the potential to change the way we fly.
The decision for United Airlines and Mesa Air Group to begin investing in Heart Aerospace and its technology and future electric aircraft development could lead to some groundbreaking opportunities for all parties involved, not to mention their investors. There is a lot that will be changing in the next few years, and in order to survive, industries like air transportation and travel need to adapt.
Until next time,