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United Invests in Electric Aircraft Fleet for Urban Air Taxis

United Invests in Electric Aircraft Fleet for Urban Air Taxis
Joe Cortez

United Airlines wants to make air mobility in urban markets easier by utilizing short-haul electric aircraft. The Chicago-based airline is making an investment in air mobility company Archer, with the goal of operating 200 electric air taxis at hub airports across the United States.

As part of their commitment to reduce their carbon footprint while improving the customer experience, United Airlines is investing in electric-powered aviation. In a press release, the Chicago-based company announced an investment in air mobility company Archer, which will yield 200 electric aircraft delivered to the carrier’s hub airports.

Short-Haul Electric Aircraft to Operate as Air Taxis

Under the investment plan, Archer will develop a series of electric-powered, short-haul aircraft with the goal of de-carbonizing air travel. In turn, United will provide expertise on many different levels to the developing company. This includes airspace management and design of the urban air taxis.

Once the design is complete and meets the business requirements set by United, the carrier will team with regional carrier Mesa Airlines to purchase a fleet of 200 airframes. The electric aircraft are destined for use at United’s hub cities, including Los Angeles International Airport, operated by smaller partner airlines.

Currently, Archer’s electronic vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles are designed to travel 60 miles, at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour. On a trip between LAX and Hollywood, utilizing the electric vehicles as a mobility option could not only improve the customer experience, but also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 47 percent per passenger.

“By working with Archer, United is showing the aviation industry that now is the time to embrace cleaner, more efficient modes of transportation,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a press release. “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.”

Future Archer eVTOL airframes will be designed to go faster and farther, opening up more options for air taxi mobility. If everything goes to plan, United could be utilizing the new aircraft in the next five years.

Electronic Vehicle Deployment Part of United’s Commitment to Offsetting Emissions

The partnership between United and Archer is just one way the airline is working to reduce their carbon emissions. Last year, the carrier announced an initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100 percent by 2050 without relying on traditional offsets. The plan is in addition to their “Eco-Friendly” flights announced in 2016.

View Comments (4)


  1. Jackie_414

    February 11, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    Will somebody please add up the environmental impact of strip and deep mining all the lithium, the deep mining for cobalt, the carbon produced in the manufacture of electric cars and airplanes, the carbon impact of transporting all this so that we can ascertain the true carbon impact comparison.

  2. Centurion

    February 11, 2021 at 6:02 pm

    OMG people are so gullible. At a certain point the batteries become the load itself and not efficient. You just need to do stored energy calculations .

  3. dsellens

    February 12, 2021 at 8:43 am

    Airline executives are not gullible. The order for 200 aircraft is contingent upon proof of concept. The idea is amazing. A 2-4 passenger, pilotless, VTOL that will replace helicopters for short trips. It is 1/6 as noisy, far less maintenance, and recharging the batteries is far cheaper than fuel. With less moving parts it is expected to be cheaper to produce than a helicopter. Yes, batteries are heavy, but so is fuel. But also electric motors are smaller and cheaper to build and maintain and conventional helicopter engines. There is a lot to prove out, but this could be a game changer for short haul flights of less than 40 to 60 miles at up to 150 mph.

  4. enggeol

    February 18, 2021 at 7:02 am

    Who travels 40 – 60 miles by plane? Unless to 40 -60 miles is missing a zero at the end I can’t see any point.

    For 40 60 miles at 150mph max. that is around 25 minutes allowing for acceleration/de-acceleration and to that you add loading and unloading time say 35 minutes best and then the chances are you have to take a taxi or other transport to the take off point or to the final destination. By car it would only be about an hour, possibly 90 minutes in heavy traffic. Nothing really gained.

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