United Airlines has approached eVTOL startup Archer to buy up to 200 of their air taxis. The agreement sees United lend their air space expertise “to assist Archer with the development of battery-powered, short-haul aircraft.”
United would then wait to see whether the aircraft meets its standard before potentially acquiring up to 200 of these electric aircraft together with Mesa Airlines. The airline also mentions that a partner would operate these air taxis.
The airline sees the flying cabs foremost as airport shuttles or as vehicles for busy commutes. United CEO Scott Kirby said, “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.”
Archer took to the field only in May 2020, revealing plans to develop an all-electric VTOL for four passengers. They aim for distances up to 60 miles (just under 100 kilometres) at speeds of up to 250 kph (155 mph).
These data have largely been taken on by United who added that future models would be designed to travel faster and further. The airline estimates that Archers’ eVTOL could almost half CO2 emissions per passenger on a trip between Hollywood and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), where Archer wants to launch first.
Another reason for the interest is the airline’s environmental strategy. United aim to become 100% green by 2050 without relying on traditional carbon offsets. “By working with Archer, United is showing the aviation industry that now is the time to embrace cleaner, more efficient modes of transportation,” added CEO Kirby.
Brett Adcock, co-CEO and co-Founder of Archer, said the deal would represent “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.”
Archer plans to unveil its series eVTOL aircraft in 2021, begin aircraft production in 2023, and launch consumer flights in 2024. They recently made a deal with FCA to jointly work on the design of the electric aircraft as reported.
In a separate statement, Archer also announced an IPO via a SPAC merger. The joint venture with Atlas Crest Investment is to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ACHR with United and Stellantis already on board as investors. Stellantis are FCA and PSA after their recent merger.
The announcement also mentioned United as a client with Archer stating an order volume of $1 billion of Archer’s aircraft, with an option for an additional $500 million. At the current intention, this would equate to a price of $5 million per eVTOL.