United Airlines and Archer Aviation to Launch First Air Taxi Route in Chicago

United Airlines and Archer Aviation have announced plans to launch Chicago’s first commercial air taxi route. The partnership aims to reduce airport commute time in the city by transporting passengers between Chicago O’Hare airport and the city center in just 10 minutes, as opposed to the current hour-long journey during peak times. The companies plan to begin services in 2025.

Vertiport Chicago selected as takeoff and landing site

United Airlines and Archer
Source: Phillips 66 Aviation

United Airlines and Archer Aviation will utilize Archer’s electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft as part of their urban air mobility (UAM) network buildout, with O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Vertiport Chicago selected as the next point-to-point route. Vertiport Chicago, located in the Illinois Medical District near the Chicago Loop, is North America’s largest vertical aircraft takeoff and landing facility. United and Archer have selected the site because of its convenience, access, and service.

Michael Leskinen, President of United Airlines Ventures, commented, “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. 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 Aviation’s Midnight aircraft to carry four passengers and one pilot

Archer Aviation first acquired United as a customer in January 2021, with the airline placing an order worth $1 billion. In November last year, Archer introduced its production eVTOL aircraft, titled Midnight, at an open house event in Palo Alto, CA. The aircraft is an advancement of the original demonstrator plane, the Maker, and will carry four passengers and one pilot. It will also use innovative technology to provide a low-noise, sustainable, and safe alternative to helicopters.

United Airlines’ investment in eVTOL technology

United Airlines and Archer
Source: Fortune

In addition to the partnership with Archer Aviation, United Airlines has also invested in eVTOL technology through Eve Air Mobility. United invested $15 million in Eve Air Mobility last year and has a conditional purchase agreement for the vehicle, which covers a total of 200 of the four-seat electric aircraft and includes options for 200 more. The first deliveries of the Eve aircraft are expected in 2026.

Archer Aviation’s plans for 250 battery-electric air taxis

Archer Aviation plans to produce around 250 battery-electric air taxis by 2025. The company is confident about its schedule, with Archer CEO Adam Goldstein previously commenting, “In our first year, we will build 250 aircraft, our second year will build 500 aircraft, our third year will build 650 aircraft, and then we scale it up to around 2,000 aircraft per year.”

Newark Liberty International Airport to Downtown Manhattan Heliport route also planned

Archer and United have already chosen Newark Liberty International Airport to Downtown Manhattan Heliport as the first route to utilize the Midnight aircraft. With Chicago joining the list, other cities could follow suit, paving the way for a new era of urban air mobility.

United Airlines and Archer Aviation’s partnership marks a significant step towards the electrification of the aviation industry and the decarbonization of air travel. By providing a low-noise, sustainable, and safe alternative to helicopters, the air taxi service could transform the way passengers travel to and from airports. With Chicago’s first commercial air taxi route set to begin in 2025, other cities could follow suit, creating a new era of urban air mobility.

Featured image by Archer Aviation


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