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Heart Aerospace, Supported by Bill Gates

Heart Aerospace Secures $107 Million in Series B Funding, Advancing Electric Plane Development

In a major funding milestone, Swedish hybrid-electric plane startup Heart Aerospace has successfully raised $107 million in a Series B funding round, elevating its total funding to an impressive $145 million. The latest round welcomed new investors, including Sagitta Ventures, complementing the backing from prominent entities such as Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the European Innovation Council Fund, and major airlines United Airlines and Air Canada.

Building Towards Certification and Expansion

Heart Aerospace has strategic plans for the fresh capital infusion, focusing on the ongoing development of its business and making significant strides toward obtaining certification for its groundbreaking hybrid-electric planes. The company aims to have its first hybrid-electric plane, the ES-30, take flight by 2028.

Evolution from 19-seater to 30-seater

Heart Aerospace, initiated as a government-sponsored project in 2018 by CEO Anders Forslund, initially concentrated on a smaller 19-seater electric plane. The company gained traction and secured a seed round in 2019 with support from EQT Ventures, Norrsken VC, and Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital. However, a strategic shift in 2022 redirected the focus towards a larger 30-seater plane, the ES-30, capable of covering 200km on electric power and double that distance with hybrid-electric for longer routes like Paris to Munich.

Certification and Industry Recognition

Heart Aerospace stands out as the only hybrid-electric airplane of its size to have submitted a certification application with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The company anticipates achieving certification for its 30-seater in 2028, aligning with its goal to have the plane operational in the same year. Anders Forslund expressed excitement for the upcoming year, highlighting the impending reveal of the full-scale aircraft demonstrator.

Strategic Backing and Industry Collaboration

Drawing inspiration from the Northvolt model, Heart Aerospace has strategically attracted backers providing both capital and expertise, potentially serving as valuable clients. Key partnerships with Mesa and United Airlines, Air Canada, Saab, and Air New Zealand have resulted in significant orders for the ES-30, totaling 250 planes.

Addressing Net Zero Goals and Regulatory Challenges

Heart Aerospace’s innovative technology aligns with Europe’s net-zero goals, but effective policy alignment is crucial for success. Simon McNamara, Director of Government and Industry Affairs at Heart, emphasizes the importance of new technologies, such as electric or hydrogen, to fill the gap left by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). While the ‘ReFuel EU’ initiative focuses on increasing biomaterials in plane fuel, McNamara suggests that new technologies are essential, with up to one-third of the required decarbonization coming from this channel.

Political Momentum and Future Outlook

Despite political focus on SAF, the European Parliament’s recent adoption of a report on electric aviation in January offers hope for a shift in support. Heart Aerospace anticipates guidance from the new EU Commission after the upcoming elections in June 2024, aiming for increased political momentum in supporting new technology.

Conclusion

Heart Aerospace’s successful funding round positions it as a leading player in the evolution of electric aviation. With strategic partnerships, a focus on innovative technology, and a commitment to addressing industry challenges, Heart Aerospace is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of sustainable air travel.

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