Finnair could have fleet of electric planes in the sky within 5 years

Mar 25, 2021

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Finnair is convinced electric aviation is the future, and it’s ready to commit to adding electric planes to its fleet.

The airline, the national carrier of Finland, signed a letter of interest that could lead to the purchase of up to 20 of Swedish aviation firm Heart Aerospace’s ES-19 electric planes. These are 19-seat aircraft designed to be used on short-haul commuter routes.

Heart Aerospace expects the aircraft to be ready for commercial flights by 2026.

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Finnair is the latest airline to announce plans to join in the race to get electric planes off the ground. Last week, Rolls-Royce and Italian planemaker Tecnam revealed plans to develop an electric passenger jet with Scandinavian regional airline Widerøe. The news comes as the worldwide airline industry looks to achieve “carbon neutral” status by 2050.

(Photo courtesy of Heart Aerospace)

“Finnair believes electric aviation will be one of the tools for the future of flying,” Finnair’s Vice President of Sustainability Anne Larilahti said in a press release. “It will help to promote responsible and sustainable aviation, especially on short routes, in an era where climate change will increasingly dominate the agenda. We want to be actively involved in developing and implementing new technologies which enable carbon-neutral flying.”

For Heart Aerospace’s new ES-19 electric jet, it would require Finnair to further rethink its ground operations. The aircraft will require charging points at every airport to which it operates, as the battery will need to be topped up every time the aircraft lands. The batteries are believed to last for 1,000 full charges over their lifetime.

“You need to really understand what is needed at the airports as well,” Larilahti said. “You can’t expand faster than the available infrastructure that supports these planes.”

Finnair has been a part of the Nordic Electric Aviation initiative since 2019 to spur the development of electric flying, with a focus on creating a standardized electric air infrastructure in the Nordic countries. The company has set goals to cut its net CO2 emissions in half by the end of 2025 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.

Featured photo courtesy of Heart Aerospace.

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