United Wants To Operate Electric Air Taxis By 2026

Today, United Airlines announced a new partnership with Archer Aviation. In collaboration with the company, the major US carrier hopes to accelerate the arrival of short-haul electric aircraft for the future of flight.

United Airlines, Archer, Flying Taxi
United is looking to start operating up to 200 flying taxis by 2026. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

While the world is currently focused on other things, the aviation industry hasn’t forgotten its commitment to reducing emissions and increasing sustainability. Indeed, just yesterday, British Airways revealed that it was partnering with a US firm to begin producing Sustainable Aviation Fuels for use from next year onwards.

The whole oneworld airline group has committed to being net-zero carbon by 2050. Meanwhile, Etihad Airways is actively exploring carbon offsets.

What’s the latest from United?

So, what’s the latest news from United Airlines? It seems as though United Airlines’ contribution to further increasing air travel’s environmental friendliness revolves around electric aircraft. The airline is partnering with air mobility company Archer, currently working on an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

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United Airlines is hoping to contribute its airspace management expertise to help Archer develop a short-haul aircraft that is battery powered. The airline would then purchase up to 200 of these electric air taxis alongside Mesa Airlines.

United Airlines, Archer, Flying Taxi
The eVTOL should be operating its first commercial flights in 2024. Photo: Archer

The eVTOL fleet would be used to give customers a quick and low-carbon way to reach a United hub airport. The aircraft would help customers in dense urban environments, though it is not currently clear how exactly the flights would operate. United Airlines is feeling fairly ambitious with the project. The airline hopes to see the technology employed in dese urban environments within the next five years.

Commenting on the new partnership, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said,

“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. Archer’s eVTOL design… has the clear potential to change how people commute within major metropolitan cities all over the world.”

Coming to Los Angeles soon?

Archer is planning to unveil its full-scale eVTOL aircraft later this year. Aircraft production is then scheduled for 2023, with the first commercial flights planned for 2024. United would be hoping to implement the technology before 2026.

United Airlines, Archer, Flying Taxi
LAX is targeted as one of the first airports to receive the eVTOL service. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

According to United, one of the first cities planned for the Archer eVTOL fleet is Los Angeles. The airline said that an eVTOL trip from Hollywood to Los Angeles International Airport would reduce CO2 by 47% per passenger compared to traditional ground-based transportation. Anybody who’s driven on the 405 at rush hour would surely understand why. The aircraft should be able to fly up to 60 miles at 150 miles an hour, giving a total flight time of 24 minutes.

What do you make of United Airlines’ electric airport transfer dreams? Let us know what you think and why in the comments.