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United Airlines Wants Electric Planes To Fly By 2026

United Airlines has revealed ambitions for electric planes to fly by 2026. The airline has signed agreements to acquire 100 19-seater electric aircraft from Heart Aerospace, with partner airline Mesa Airlines signing up for another 100 of the electric planes. The announcement is the latest in the airline’s plan to reduce the environmental footprint of its operations.

United Airlines, Electric Aircraft, Regional Jet
United Airlines wants 19-seater electric regional planes by 2026. Photo: Heart Aerospace

Fully electric flight seems to be a divisive topic. While some say that it’s not feasible given the size of batteries needed, others are investing heavily in the technology. Earlier this year, United Airlines revealed plans to buy electric flying taxis. Now it has gone a step further targeting electric regional aircraft.

An agreement for 200 aircraft

Along with its regional partner Mesa Airlines, United Airlines has signed an agreement to acquire the Heart Aerospace ES-19 aircraft. 200 have been agreed, 100 for United, and 100 for Mesa Airlines. The Heart Aerospace ES-19 is a 19 seater regional jet, which is intended to fly passengers 250 miles by the end of the decade.

While it’s not clear exactly when United Airlines would hope to operate its first fully electric flights, it is hoping that the ES-19 will be introduced to the market as early as 2026, giving five years to nail the design, build test aircraft, and then achieve certification for the plane.

United Airlines, Electric Aircraft, Regional Jet
United hopes the aircraft could enter service as soon as 2026. Photo: United Airlines

The aircraft will have zero operational emissions as motors powered by batteries will entirely propel it. Of course, the aircraft wouldn’t be totally carbon-free, as the electricity to power the aircraft could well come from fossil fuel power plants.

The airline hopes that the ES-19 would operate on more than 100 of its regional routes from most of its hubs. This could see the aircraft gracing the likes of Chicago O’Hare and San Francisco. Finnair preciously expressed interest in the aircraft.

Commenting on the electric aircraft order, United Airlines’ VP of Corporate Development & Investor Relations, Michael Leskinen, said,

“We recognize that customers want even more ownership of their own carbon emissions footprint. We’re proud to partner with Mesa Air Group to bring electric aircraft to our customers earlier than any other US airliner.”

United Airlines, Electric Aircraft, Regional Jet
The aircraft would be powered by batteries rather than traditional fuel. Photo: Heart Aerospace

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Ordering everything and anything

The agreement for the ES-19 is the latest in a series of exciting orders placed by the US carrier as it looks to cut its CO2 emissions. Last month the airline placed its largest-ever order and the biggest by a single airline in the past decade. This order was for 200 Boeing 737 MAXs, and a further 70 Airbus A321neos, intended to replace its older, less efficient narrowbodies.

Two months ago, United Airlines stunned most with an order for up to 50 supersonic aircraft from Boom supersonic, with 15 of these being firm orders. The airline hopes to fly these planes by 2029. The Boom order came after United revealed plans to fly electric air taxis on short 60 mile connections to the airport. Again, alongside Mesa Airlines, the airline could buy up to 200, with an entry to service targetted for 2026.

What do you think of United Airlines’ electric plane plans? Let us know what you think and why in the comments down below!

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