Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
United Airlines Inc. is looking to the future with a major investment in electric air taxis to transport consumers to and from the airport.
The company paid a $10 million deposit to Archer Aviation Inc. for an order of 100 electric vertical takeoff and landing air taxis, known as eVTOLs, the company announced on Aug. 10.
“The payment represents a watershed moment for the eVTOL industry, validating confidence in the commercialization of eVTOL aircraft and Archer’s leadership,” the company said in a news release (pdf).
Archer Aviation recently completed its preliminary design review (PDR) for the electric air taxi, and the company said it hopes the air taxi will now advance to the next stage of its development and commercialization efforts.
The PDR is a “meticulous review of the aircraft design” to make sure it’s ready for production and introduction to the market, the company said.
“United’s decision to place a deposit for 100 of Archer’s eVTOL aircraft signals its desire to be one of the first airline operators in the U.S. to bring eVTOL aircraft to market,” Archer stated.
United Airlines and its regional partner airline Mesa Airlines agreed in 2021 to purchase $1 billion of Archer’s flying taxis, with an option for an additional $500 million of aircraft.
At the time, the airline noted that the air taxis could provide customers with a “quick, economic and low-emission way to get to airports within its major hubs by 2024.”
‘Flying Taxis Will Reduce CO2 Emissions’
United Airlines estimates that using one of Archer’s eVTOL aircraft could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 50 percent per passenger on a trip between Hollywood and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
Los Angeles is also one of the initial cities in which Archer plans to launch its fleet of air taxis.
The aircraft being developed by Archer take off vertically like a helicopter, meaning no runway is required, and fly forward like an airplane. They can also land on traditional helicopter landing pads or other landing sites such as the top of a parking garage.
The vehicles are powered entirely by electricity.
According to its website, Archer’s mission is to “advance the benefits of sustainable air mobility” and its vehicles are designed to safely complete a flight, even if an engine shuts down or its propulsion system stops working.
Archer’s eVTOL aircraft is believed to be one of the first of its kind in the industry.
However, the company is currently involved in a lawsuit brought by rival company Wisk Aero LLC over alleged patent infringement.
Archer Aviation has denied the claims and filed a number of counterclaims. The company has also brought a lawsuit against Boeing, one of Wisk Aero’s backers.
The ‘New Era’ of Air Travel
“I am incredibly proud of the entire Archer team as we reach this milestone in our partnership with United Airlines. To receive a cash deposit is validation of Archer’s achievements to date, not only with flight testing and product development, but also a great signal of confidence in our roadmap to commercialization,” said CEO Adam Goldstein in a news release. “We’re thankful to United for their continued partnership as we usher in this new era in air travel.”
Michael Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures, called the down payment a “new important phase in our relationship with Archer, and our commitment to eVTOL technology,” and noted that consumers and businesses are now moving to prioritize technology that reduces CO2 emissions.
“We believe eVTOLs have the potential to both help achieve carbon-neutral travel and serve as an innovative new tool to change how United customers experience comfort, convenience, and efficiency during their commutes within cities across the globe,” Leskinen added.
Leskinen told The Wall Street Journal that prices for the air taxis will be comparable to Uber Black, a deluxe service that allows customers to choose a luxury vehicle and professional driver instead of the standard rideshare setup.
In an Archer eVTOL, a trip from Manhattan to a New York airport would cost between $110 to $120, although that price could decline over time, Leskinen said.