MIAMI – United Airlines (UA) has announced a partnership with air mobility company Archer to provide electric aircraft as part of the effort to reduce carbon emissions, a company press release stated on February 10.

As stated in the release, “rather than relying on traditional combustion engines, Archer’s electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft are designed to use electric motors and have the potential for future use as an ‘air taxi’ in urban markets.”

As part of the agreement, UA will provide its expertise in airspace management in helping Archer develop battery-powered short-haul aircraft that, once it meets the airline’s requirements, will be purchased by UA’s partner Mesa Airlines (YV).

Archer-eVTOL. Photo: Archer

Electric Aircraft Will be Used As ‘Air Taxi’

“United, together with Mesa Airlines, would acquire a fleet of up to 200 of these electric aircraft that would be operated by a partner and are expected to give customers a quick, economical and low-carbon way to get to United’s hub airports and commute in dense urban environments within the next five years,” the release stated.

United Airlines has invested in innovative technologies that reduce carbon emissions while keeping its eye on the customer experience and financial return. After being an early investor at Fulcrum Bioenergy to promote biofuel development, UA also partnered with 1PointFive to develop carbon capture technology.

On December 10, 2020, the carrier made a bold environmental commitment, pledging to be 100% Green by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. UA said it would meet this goal by making industry-leading investments in new technology and sustainable fuels – not from buying carbon offsets.

United Airlines Boeing 787-9 N29978 at San Francisco International Airport. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

Comments from United Airlines CEO

The airline’s CEO Scott Kirby praised the partnership, saying, “Part of how United will combat global warming is by embracing emerging technologies that 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.”

The CEO added, “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.” Kirby also said that “Archer’s eVTOL design, manufacturing model and engineering expertise has the clear potential to change how people commute within major metropolitan cities all over the world.”

Currently, Archer’s aircraft are capable to travel distances of up to 60 miles at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour with future models designed to travel faster and further. In addition, the company estimates that the aircraft will reduce CO2 emissions by 47% per passenger on a trip between Hollywood and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), one of the initial cities where it plans to launch its fleet. 

Furthermore, Archer plans to launch the air taxi in 2021, start production in 2023, and deliver aircraft in 2024. Archer’s Co-CEO and co-Founder, Brett Adcock, thinks the partnership goes beyond a commercial pact.

“We couldn’t be happier to be working with an established global player like United. This deal represents so much more than just a commercial agreement for our aircraft, but rather the start of a relationship that we believe will accelerate our timeline to market as a result of United’s strategic guidance around FAA certification, operations and maintenance,” Adcock said.

Featured image: Archer