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Finland details routes for electric aviation trial

Sweden’s Heart Aerospace tested a sub-scale model of its electric aircraft, ES-19, at Säve Airport in Gothenburg in December.

Heart Aerospace

Enontekiö Airport, located in the north-western “arm” of Finland, is taking part in a project that seeks to determine whether electric aircraft could be a means to revive lightly trafficked short-haul routes, reports YLE.

The flights are scheduled to commence next autumn on a route from Rovaniemi via Enontekiö to Tromsø, Norway. They will initially be operated with aircraft powered by renewable jet fuel but later with electric aircraft.

Enontekiö is to later also offer connections to Ivalo, Kuusamo and Oulu in Finland, Kiruna in Sweden and Alta in Norway.

Flights within Lapland have not been available since the 1990s, with the exception of the triangle flights between Helsinki, Ivalo and Kittilä. Electric aviation, however, promises to enable the profitable operation of short-haul flights with low passenger volumes – including year-round flights out of Enontekiö, a municipality with roughly 1,800 residents, believes Marko Halla, CEO of Enontekiö Airport.

Halla said to the public broadcasting company that scheduled services in the region have been designed in a way that they can be operated with electric equipment. “Enontekiö is centrally located, with the longest flight distance from here being 300 kilometres,” he told.

The demand for flights in the sparsely populate region characterised by long distances stems from the movement of labour and inter-university collaboration, according to YLE. Finns, for example, work in relatively high numbers in Northern Norway.

“And tourists are an important group. There’s a lot of tourist traffic between Rovaniemi and Tromsø,” told Halla.

The Finnish-Swedish project will also establish flight connections between Ostrobothnia in Finland and Västerbotten in Sweden. Flights between Kokkola, Finland, and Skellefteå, Sweden, for example, are to begin no later than next autumn with an eight-seater or 19-seater aircraft powered by renewable jet fuel.

“The aircraft will be later replaced with electric aircraft,” told Stig-Göran Forsman, CEO of Connection Kokkola-Jakobstad.

The other towns incorporated in the regional network are Vaasa, Finland, Umeå, Sweden, and Mo i Rana, Norway.

The electrification plans are based on ES-19, a 19-seater electric aircraft developed by Sweden’s Heart Aerospace. While the aircraft remains partly on the drawing board, the startup has announced it expects the aircraft to receive type certification and enter into service in 2026. In December, it reported that a sub-scale model of the aircraft has taken flight for the first time at its headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Henri Hansson, head of airport infrastructure at Finavia, reminded that electric aviation is only one alternative for reducing emissions from air travel.

“Airlines have a lot of combustion engine equipment, and they have to find solutions that allow the aircraft to be in use for a long time in both an economic and environmental sense,” he stated to YLE.

By: Aleksi Teivainen