United Airlines has announced that it has completed an agreement to work with air mobility company Archer as part of the airline’s broader effort to invest in emerging technologies that decarbonise air travel.
Archer’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft are designed to use electric motors and have the potential for future use as an ‘air taxi’ in urban markets.
Under the terms of the agreement, United will contribute its expertise in airspace management to assist Archer with the development of battery-powered, short-haul aircraft.
Once the aircraft are in operation and have met United’s operating and business requirements, United, together with Mesa Airlines, would acquire a fleet of up to 200 of the electric aircraft that would be operated by a partner and are expected to give customers a quick, economical and low-carbon way to get to United’s hub airports and commute in dense urban environments within the next five years.
“Part of how United will combat global warming is by embracing emerging technologies that decarbonise air travel,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “By working with Archer, United is showing the aviation industry that now is the time to embrace cleaner, more efficient modes of transportation. With the right technology, we can curb the impact aircraft have on the planet, but we have to identify the next generation of companies who will make this a reality early and find ways to help them get off the ground. Archer’s eVTOL design, manufacturing model and engineering expertise has the clear potential to change how people commute within major metropolitan cities all over the world.”
The aircraft are designed to travel distances of up to 60 miles at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and future models will be designed to travel faster and further.
United estimates that using Archer’s eVTOL aircraft could reduce CO2 emissions by 47% per passenger on a trip between Hollywood and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), one of the initial cities where Archer plans to launch its fleet.
Archer has also shared plans to unveil its full scale eVTOL aircraft in 2021, begin aircraft production in 2023, and launch consumer flights in 2024.
“We couldn’t be happier to be working with an established global player like United,” said Brett Adcock, co-CEO and co-founder of Archer. “This deal represents so much more than just a commercial agreement for our aircraft, but rather the start of a relationship that we believe will accelerate our timeline to market as a result of United’s strategic guidance around FAA certification, operations and maintenance.”