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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

These technologies could bring America to net zero emissions by 2050

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The newest section of a project from Third Way, the Bipartisan Policy Project and Clean Air Task Force examines how energy breakthroughs could accelerate America's transition to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: The report chapter, provided first to Axios, is part of a broader effort known as the Decarb America Research Initiative, which explores the best ways to move the U.S. toward a net zero carbon emissions future by 2050.

3 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania. 

Updated 3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.