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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

United Airlines and the regional carrier Mesa Air Group this morning announced conditional plans to buy 100 planes each — and an option for more — from the electric plane startup Heart Aerospace.

Driving the news: The two airlines are also investors in a $35 million Series A funding round for the Swedish startup that hopes to bring a 19-seat electric plane into service by 2026.

Other investors include Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Lowercarbon Capital.

Why it matters: Air travel is a significant source of carbon dioxide emissions, and electric, hydrogen and other clean fuel technologies offer the potential to address the problem — if they can be successfully commercialized.

The big picture: "Tuesday’s deal is the latest in a series of bets on new aircraft concepts yet to be tested but that United said could help it reduce carbon emissions," the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • The airline industry is increasingly staking — and announcing preliminary orders — for various kinds of electrified flight.
  • United is backing the vertical takeoff and landing startup Archer, and American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic recently invested in the U.K.-based Vertical Aerospace.

Reality check: These investments and preliminary purchase orders are the early stages of plans to electrify flight, hardly a guarantee the models will be built or incorporated into the airlines' routes.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 13, 2021 - Energy & Environment

A tough reality check ahead of COP26

Data: IEA; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

A major new report provides a stark warning ahead of the UN climate summit: Yes, clean-tech deployment is really surging, but energy systems are still transforming far too slowly to rein in global warming.

Driving the news: The International Energy Agency is out with its big annual World Energy Outlook, a 386-page trove of data and analysis.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Facebook paying up to $14M to settle employment discrimination claims

Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook has agreed to pay up to $14.25 million to settle allegations that it discriminated against U.S. workers by reserving positions for temporary visa holders, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The settlement represents the largest civil penalty and monetary award that the Civil Rights Division has recovered in the 35-year history of the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provision.

Ina Fried, author of Login
3 hours ago - Technology

Google's Pixel 6 bets on better cameras, homegrown chip

Image: Google

Google's latest Pixel phones, announced Tuesday, pack a lot more than just a new processor, although the Tensor chip is a key to many of the new features.

Between the lines: Google has been in the smartphone business for years, but with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, it is finally striking out in a unique direction.