United Airlines just put down a $10 million deposit for 100 electric-powered flying taxis, a technology it hopes will one day serve urban markets. This marks the first cash commitment for an electric aircraft by a commercial airline.
United Airlines Places $10 Million Deposit On Flying Taxis
In February 2021, United Airlines signed a memorandum of intent with California-based Archer to buy up to 200 electric aircraft. These battery-powered turboprops can only accommodate four passengers, but United CEO Scott Kirby emphasized their potential to reduce the effects of climate change:
“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.”
18 months later, United has put down a $10 million deposit, first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Archer has previously said that United will be the launch customers for its four-seat aircraft.
Michael Leskinen, President of United Ventures, hopes to offer pricing similar to Uber Black to use this service and sees operators like Uber and Blade as competitors.
Don’t expect these electric aircraft to be airworthy anytime soon, though. First, the Federal Aviation Administration must sign off on the safety of these aircraft. There’s also a question of how to integrate these aircraft into urban airspaces. Archer CEO Adam Goldstein expects approval to come by the end of 2024, with operations starting in 2025.
There’s a legal twist at play, though, which continues to depress Archer stock and a cast a cloud over the program. Archer has been sued by Wisk Aero LLC, another air taxi company, which claims that Archer stole its trade secrets and the Archer design really belongs to Wisk Aero. That dispute is ongoing, with Archer countersuing for defamation and business interference. A trial is currently scheduled for August 2023.
United is not alone in pursuing electric-powered aircraft. American Airlines has pledged a $25 million invemenst in Vertical Aerospace Limited.
United Airlines has placed a $10 million deposit for 100 electric-powered flying taxis, marking the first cash commitment for an electric aircraft by a commercial airline. Still, questions remain about this aircraft concept, including its sustainability, affordability, and Archer’s legal battle with a competitor. Any electric taxi service is not expected before 2025.
> Read More: United Airlines Eyes 200 Electric Aircraft