United Airlines announced an agreement with electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) developer Archer to assist in the development of battery-powered, short-haul aircraft.

According to United, the new agreement is part of the airline’s broader effort to invest in emerging technologies that decarbonize air travel. In December 2020, United announced a new pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050 through the use of direct emission reduction measures, including investments in clean aviation technologies and sustainable aviation fuel.

United CEO Scott Kirby, said:

“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. 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, manufacturing model and engineering expertise has the clear potential to change how people commute within major metropolitan cities all over the world.”

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. Under the terms of the new agreement, United will contribute its expertise in airspace management to assist with the development of the new aircraft. Additionally, once the aircraft are in operation and have met United’s operating and business requirements, United and Mesa Airlines will acquire a fleet of up to 200 of the electric aircraft. The aircraft are expected to provide customers with a quick, economical and low-carbon way to get to the airline’s hub airports and commute in dense urban environments within the next five years.

The Archer’s aircraft are designed to travel distances of up to 60 miles at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour, with future models expected to travel faster and farther. According to the companies, the aircraft could reduce CO2 emissions by 47% per passenger on a trip between Hollywood and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), one of the initial cities where Archer plans to launch its fleet.

Brett Adcock, co-CEO and co-Founder of Archer, said:

“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.”

Adam Goldstein, co-CEO and co-Founder of Archer, added:

“The team at United share our vision of a more sustainable future. We’re working closely with their test pilots and environmental teams to make sustainable urban air mobility a reality far sooner than people could ever imagine.”