American airline giant United Airlines is aiming to launch a point-to-point ‘flying taxi’ service using Archer Aviation’s electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) craft in New York and Chicago by 2025.
The services will use Archer’s Midnight eVTOL, which can seat four passengers and a pilot. The helicopter-style machine features six pairs of engines, each powered by a separate battery, and has a top speed of around 150mph.
The Midnight will capable of flying distances of up to 100 miles, although it will be optimised for short flights of around 20 minutes. Archer is due to begin test flights of the Midnight later this year.
The New York service will run from Newark Liberty International Airport to the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, while the Chicago operation will link O’Hare International Airport with the new Vertiport Chicago in the city’s Medical District. Both journeys will take around 10 minutes, compared to average road journey times of around an hour.
The point-to-point operations will form part of United’s planned Urban Air Mobility (UAM) network. The early focus is on building ‘trunk’ routes from airports into city centres, before passing a number of ‘branch’ routes to connect those locations to surrounding areas.
"Both Archer and United are committed to decarbonising air travel and leveraging innovative technologies to deliver on the promise of the electrification of the aviation industry,” said United Airlines Ventures president Michael Leskinen, President of United Airlines Ventures. “Once operational, we’re excited to offer our customers a more sustainable, convenient and cost-effective mode of transportation during their commutes to the airport.”
In Chicago, utility firm ComEd will work with United and Archer to build the required power infrastructure.