Perhaps the folks at United Airlines have been watching a lot of “Jetsons” reruns in quarantine.
United is planning to buy up to 200 fully electric “air taxis” — with the capacity for vertical takeoff and landing — for the purpose of transporting customers to the airport quickly, safely, and ideally with minimal environmental impact.
The Chicago-based carrier announced its intentions to work with Archer, an “air mobility company,” to bring the battery-powered aircraft into operation by 2024. Once up and running, Archer’s aircraft will be able to transport United customers from up to 60 miles away, and at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour.
United CEO Scott Kirby is touting the announcement as yet another of the airline’s initiatives designed to “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,” said Kirby in a news release issued Wednesday. “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.”
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Archer is scheduled to unveil its first eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft in 2021 before going into production in 2023. United will assist with guidance in obtaining certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), after which United and partner carrier Mesa Airlines will acquire up to 200 of the aircraft.
Archer has since disclosed that its orders from United are valued at $1 billion, with an option for another half-billion dollars, the Associated Press reported.
The Palo Alto-based comapny also previously announced a merger with the Atlas Crest Investment Corp. to form a new, publicly traded company. Archer and Atlas are valuing the deal at $3.8 billion.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.