The airline industry will have to become more sustainable over time. We now see airlines introducing additional sustainability initiatives, including in some cases compensation flights, and committing to more fuel-efficient fleets. Beyond that, we are seeing the development of new aeronautical technology and airlines are increasingly expressing interest in electric aircraft. Here is the last such case.
Finnair expresses interest in electric aircraft
Finnair has signed a letter of interest to acquire up to 20 ES-19 aircraft from Heart Aerospace. These electric planes have capacity for 19 passengers each and will have a fully electric range of 400 kilometers.
Heart Aerospace ES-19 airplane
Heart Aerospace is an aerospace startup based in Gothenburg, Sweden, and the aircraft is currently in development, with plans to enter commercial service by 2026.
As Anne Larilahti, Vice President of Sustainability at Finnair, describes this development:
“Finnair believes that electric aviation will be one of the tools for the future of flight. It will help promote responsible and sustainable aviation, especially on short routes, in an era when climate change will increasingly dominate the agenda.
We want to actively participate in the development and implementation of new technologies that allow carbon-free flying.
Solving the climate challenge of flying is essential for the social and economic benefits of aviation to continue. Many of the measures require collaboration from all industries together with partners who play a key role in our ongoing sustainability work. “
Finnair is committed to halving its net CO2 emissions by the end of 2025 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2045. To achieve this, the airline focuses on improving fuel efficiency, reducing aircraft weight, combining different sustainable modes of transport, emissions trading and aviation fuels.
This is very good, but …
Obviously, the focus on this type of technology is amazing and commendable, and a more sustainable future for aviation is a marathon and not a race. With that in mind, I have a couple of different thoughts.
First of all, I wouldn’t read too much in the “letter of interest.” Ultimately, this strikes me as a mutually beneficial publicity stunt: Finnair is showing its commitment to the environment and making Heart Aerospace look good by having the backing of a major airline. I doubt that Finnair is depositing a large amount of money, especially in this current environment.
Beyond that, I’m not sure I fully understand how this fits into Finnair’s fleet planning.
- This aircraft has a maximum capacity of 19 passengers, while Finnair’s current smallest aircraft has a capacity of 68 passengers.
- While an electric airplane concept is amazing, how practical is it really? The plane appears to have a range of 400 kilometers, so how long will it have to charge between uses and in how many markets does Finnair serve where a 19-seat plane makes sense?
- It’s great when it is advertised that an aircraft can greatly reduce emissions and save money, but that comparison is only valuable when compared to a similar aircraft.
Airbus is developing zero-emission commercial aircraft that are high-capacity and practical in the sense that they could replace existing aircraft.
Airbus is developing zero-emission commercial aircraft
However, some of the other initiatives that we are looking at do not seem so practical. For example, United Airlines revealed that it plans to operate 200 electric air taxis. I mean, I guess that’s cool, but that doesn’t do much to help United’s fleet be more efficient, it just means that the airline is trying to expand into a new industry and compete with companies like BLADE, Uber, etc.
United Airlines plans to operate up to 200 electric air taxis
Similarly, I suppose Finnair may be looking to expand into new markets that currently cannot be served, because I’m not sure how practical this would be otherwise.
Finnair has expressed interest in ordering up to 20 ES-19s, which are 19-seat electric aircraft that could enter service in 2026. It is amazing to see technology like this develop, although the logistics as far as the operations of the airlines remains a mystery. to me.
The 19-seat planes with an electric range of 400 kilometers don’t seem to do much to replace any existing aircraft Finnair can operate, which at the very least have roughly at least four times the capacity.
What do you think of Finnair’s interest in these electric planes?