United Airlines announced that it is partnering with Archer to order a fleet of up to 200 electrical aircraft. The goal of these aircraft will be to serve as “air taxis” in urban markets, furthering United’s pledge to decarbonize air travel…and hopefully turn a profit as well.
United Airlines Plans For Up To 200 Electric Aircraft To Serve As Air Taxis
Archer has produced an aircraft prototype that will travel up to 60 miles at 150 miles per hour. It will utilize eVTOL technology to offer vertical takeoffs and landings. The hope is that these aircraft can offer 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.” Archer is working on improving both the range and speed of its aircraft.
Under the new partnership, United will contribute its “expertise in airspace management” to assist Archer with the development of battery-powered, short-haul aircraft. In exchange, United and Mesa, its United Express subsidiary, will acquire up to 200 aircraft “once the aircraft are in operation and have met United’s operating and business requirements.”
United says this furthest two goals invest in emerging technologies that decarbonize air travel. CEO Scott Kirby noted:
“Part of how United will combat global warming is by embracing emerging technologies that decarbonize air travel. 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.”
Gimmick Or The Future Of Travel?
I love to see startups offers new concepts that clean our air and make travel easier. I’m totally open to this model of transport and would love to see it integrated into the United Express fleet. Further, the beauty of electric aircraft is that they are silent, which also curbs pernicious sound pollution.
I live north of downtown Los Angeles, about 25 minutes from LAX. If I had a station in Pasadena or Glendale less than 10 minutes from my house, I would embrace the concept of driving to a mini airport then taking an “air taxi” to Los Angeles.
But as much as I would embrace the concept, it’s still only 25 minutes without traffic (which is most days these days) or about 45 minutes with traffic to the airport. I cannot imagine the entire Archer process will save time if I have to land at LAX, take a shuttle to the terminal, and then clear security.
As far as I am concerned, any Los Angeles solution must include a dedicated gate in Terminal 7 or 8 and dedicated security checkpoint or else the hassle will outweigh driving. It must also be cost effective. Uber X is cheap. Gas and parking are relatively cheap. Certainly there will be a premium charged for this service, but it cannot be excessive or it will just be a vanity project.
I’m really excited about this new partnership and the potential for taxis to shift from the ground to the air. That said, there remains much to be seen whether this will be a viable transport method in the years ahead.
Your thoughts on airlines utilizing electric aircraft as part of their express operations?