Leading global airline United Airlines is preparing to launch the first electric air taxi route in Chicago in collaboration with Archer Aviation, using Archer’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
Announced by United Airlines, the third largest airline in the United States his intentions in 2020 to become 100% green by 2050 by completely eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from its operations “without relying on traditional carbon offsets”.
To achieve its goal, United has made a series of investments and partnerships in zero emissions technology, including an investment in electric aircraft startup Heart Aerospace in July 2021.
Heart Aerospace is developing an all-electric 19-seat aircraft capable of flying up to 250 miles before the end of the decade. However, United say they are confident they can fast track the lead as early as 2026.
Once complete, Heart says its ES-19 aircraft will be larger than any of its all-electric competitors and will be designed using the same types of batteries used in electric vehicles.
Michael Leskinen, United’s vice president of corporate development, says he expects “the short-haul regional air travel market to play a major role in the evolution of electric aircraft.”
Meanwhile, United is partnering with Archer to accelerate zero-emissions urban air mobility using Archer’s all-electric air taxi.
United Airlines launches the first electric air taxi in Chicago
United Airlines and Archer revealed Thursday that they will fly electric air taxis from O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Vertiport Chicago, the largest vertical take-off and landing facility in North America, as its next route.
Passengers will be able to travel on Archer Midnight Planes From one point to another in about 10 minutes, compared to what can take over an hour or more during rush hour.
The Archer Midnight Electric Air Taxi is designed to carry four passengers, luggage and a pilot up to 100 miles, but is optimized for more frequent 20-mile trips with 12 minutes to charge in between, the perfect time to load passengers and cargo.
The eVTOL is powered by six battery packs and engineered for speeds of up to 150 mph, operating at “ground-breaking ride-share pricing.”
Leskin says both Archer and United are committed to decarbonising air travel, adding:
Once operational, we are pleased to offer our customers a more sustainable, convenient and cost-effective mode of transportation for their commute to the airport.
To create the infrastructure needed to ship eVTOL aircraft in and around Chicago, United and Archer will work with ComEd.
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