The United States Airline is one of the first major carriers to commit to purchasing electronic flying taxis. United Airlines plans to team up with US regional carrier Mesa Airlines to buy Archer’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. This order amounts to a total of $1.1 billion for 200 of the eVTOLs (with the option to buy another $500 million worth of aircraft under the deal). Although United Airlines has the capital to proceed with this deal, the aircraft needs regulatory approval before the purchase can be completed.
With Archer still being in the start-up stage of business maturity, this deal will serve as a stamp of approval for them. Archer stated it will launch its IPO and shares on the United States stock market following the deal. Other investors that are involved in the funding of the startup include carmaker Stellantis, the new merger of Fiat Chrysler and France’s PSA Group.
Archer’s design team has set a high standard for the capabilities of the eVTOL aircrafts in order to meet the expectations of United Airlines. The company has said that the taxis will be capable of flying 60 miles and will have a top speed of 150 miles per hour. While that may be impressive on its own, the expected emissions of carbon dioxide will be cut in half compared to motor vehicles. United Airlines chief executive Scott Kirby said in a statement, “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.”
In the past year, the Coronavirus pandemic has hindered the profitability of the airline industry with some airlines having insurmountable losses. United Airlines lost more than $7 billion last year and has relied on aid from the United States government to avoid resorting to laying off thousands of workers. The airline saw the pandemic as an opportunity to use the stimulus to fund development of some sort of carbon-neutral air travel.
Archer is not alone in the race to develop an electronic taxi that can be implemented in several different environments. Volocopter, who is another competitor in the market, plans on using its VoloCity electric air taxi to transport clients into city centers. Between these companies and others, the future for ride-sharing is right upon us. Within the next 5 years you or I could be taking one of these to the airports if the timeline Archer has set in place is accurate.
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