DALLAS — This week, Archer Aviation and United Airlines (UA) announced plans to launch the first air taxi route in Chicago, between O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Vertiport Chicago.
Archer Aviation’s first customer, UA purchased 100 eVTOL aircraft in 2021 at a cost of US$1bn. The airline will launch an air taxi service between downtown Chicago and ORD in 2025, using its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) Midnight aircraft. The aircraft will complete the Chicago route in about 10 minutes.
The Midnight eVTOL is designed to be capable of flying distances of up to 100 miles, but optimized to conduct back-to-back flights of ~ 20 miles with ~12 minutes of charge time in between, at a cost that Archer believes will be competitive with ground-based ride-share services like Uber Black.
Electrification of Aviation
“Both Archer and United are committed to decarbonizing air travel and leveraging innovative technologies to deliver on the promise of the electrification of the aviation industry,” said Michael Leskinen, President of United Airlines Ventures.
Leskinen added, “Once operational, we’re excited to offer our customers a more sustainable, convenient, and cost-effective mode of transportation during their commutes to the airport.”
Archer states that “Midnight is aiming to redefine what air travel can be: low cost, low noise, with the safety of commercial airlines.”
Solidifying the AMM Market, UAM Network
As for Archer’s planned OEM line of business, the company expects the direct sale to UA will provide meaningful cash flows to help finance the build-out of their urban air mobility (UAM) network.
The company states on its website, “The early go-to-market strategy is to launch “trunk” routes from airport to city center with partners like United as there is known demand and strong willingness.”
In April 2022, the California eVTOL startup and UA announced the creation of a joint advisory committee. The objective of the committee is to exploit UA’s maintenance and operational expertise to advise Archer in the development of its all-electric composite aircraft.
Archer and UA’s goal is to facilitate the “large-scale adoption” of electric aircraft for the future advanced air mobility (AAM) market by implementing systems and processes that can improve eVTOL operations. In the long term, the focus will be on the widespread adoption of UAM and eVTOL aircraft.
250 Electric Air Taxis in 2025
In October 2022, Archer announced plans to produce approximately 250 battery-electric air taxis in 2025, with production ramping up in subsequent years after achieving certification by the end of 2024.
The news came on the heels of the US Department of Transportation (DoT) announcing 12 new appointments to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advanced Aviation Advisory Committee (AAAC). The new committee will give the FAA advice on key drone and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) issues.
According to Reuters, Archer aims to certify its pilot-plus-four-passenger ‘Midnight’ aircraft by the end of 2024 while the FAA develops certification requirements for the novel aircraft.
The UA Chicago air shuttle, if approved by the FAA, would be the first commercial eVTOL service to launch in North America.
Featured image: Archer Aviation