Swedish electric airliners should be crossing Canadian skies in a few years, despite Quebec and Ottawa’s millions to boost tomorrow’s planes. Air Canada chooses Heart Aerospace aircraft to electrify its fleet and becomes a shareholder in the company – a surprising decision.
Posted at 10:36 am
There are still steps to be taken and questions remain, but the country’s largest airline intends to buy up to 30 planes. The price paid was not disclosed. The order comes with a $5 million investment in the Swedish start-up.
“Why not a Canadian technology? asks aviation expert and McGill University lecturer John Gradek. That was one of my first questions. We have hundreds of people here working on the development of hybrid electric technology. »
The pundit, who worked at Air Canada for nearly two decades during his career, said he was “really disappointed” to see the Montreal-based company turning to technology from elsewhere to electrify its fleet.
Air Canada and Heart Aerospace declined interview requests The press, Thursday. Up to 30 passengers can board the ES-30. Its range is estimated at 200 kilometers with battery technology alone. It increases with the use of generators powered by sustainable aviation fuel.
The young Swedish shoot already has customers. United Airlines and Mesa Air Group had already agreed last year to buy 200 units of the first version of the prototype. You will receive ES-30.
The Heart Aerospace project is recognized as one of the most advanced in the hybrid electric aircraft niche. Eviation has already deployed a prototype aircraft, but it could only accommodate nine passengers. In British Columbia, Harbor Air was able to conduct test flights with an electric seaplane.
Additionally, since summer 2021, Pratt & Whitney Canada and De Havilland have been collaborating to implement a hybrid electric powertrain on a Dash 8-100 aircraft. The engine manufacturer had received almost 70 million from the Legault and Trudeau governments as part of the project.
A prototype should be presented in 2024. The first assembly line is set up in Sweden.
“I’m conflicted about that [la décision d’Air Canada], explains Jacques Roy, Professor of Traffic Management at HEC Montréal. Knowing that a Canadian project is on the table, I find it less interesting to see Air Canada take a stake in a foreign company. »
Quebec and Ottawa did not comment on the news. According to our information, the federal government intends to monitor the impact of the country’s largest airline.
If all goes according to plan, the ES-30, which has yet to complete its maiden flight and certification, is expected to enter service with Air Canada in 2028. The 200 km range would allow devices to be used on routes such as Montreal-Ottawa and Vancouver-Victoria, the company explained, ensuring that these were examples.
This interest in regional slots surprises experts, who point out that the carrier has tended to abandon these routes in recent years.
There are no more than 20 markets in Canada where Heart aircraft would suffice. We should have waited to consider devices that can connect Montreal and Toronto, for example [700 km] or Calgary and Edmonton.
Richard Aboulafia from the American company AeroDynamic Advisory sees interesting potential in the ES-30, but nothing indicates that the adventure will be crowned with success.
“The question is, what will the operating costs per seat mile be? explains the analyst. The game is worth the candle, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we asked for a subsidy to use the device. »
Responsible for more than 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the aviation industry is often singled out for its environmental impact. In Canada, absolute greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 53.2% over the past decade, according to data from Transport Canada.
Currently, the weight of the batteries limits the range of an electric aircraft. Giants like Airbus are currently working on aircraft projects that will use liquid hydrogen as engines to circumvent the weight problem.
- Autonomy: 200 km
- Range in hybrid mode: 400 km and 800 km with 25 passengers
- Propulsion: Four motors
- Maximum altitude: 20,000 feet
- Charging time: between 30 and 50 minutes
- Air Canada’s share price closed Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The stock gained 2%, or 39 cents.
- Air Canada says it can be carbon neutral within a quarter of a century.