United invests $1 billion in short-haul electric planes

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On February 10, 2021, United Airlines agreed to invest $1 billion in Archer Aviation, a start-up developing electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. 

Under the terms of the agreement, United Airlines would assist Archer with the development of battery-powered short-haul eVTOL aircraft. Once it is developed, the airline would add 200 eVTOL aircraft to its fleet, using it for short-haul urban operations. 

“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,” United Airlines wrote in a statement. 

Short-haul electric airplanes could commute in dense urban environments as well as get customers to airports, giving them low-carbon “air taxi” alternatives.

For instance ,Archer eVTOL aircraft could perform a flight from Hollywood to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) reducing carbon emissions by 47% per passenger, according to the airline.

United Airlines has pledged to become 100% green by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050. 

The start-up said its eVTOL aircraft is designed to fly distances of up to 60 miles (96.5 kilometres) at speed of up to 150 miles per hour (241 km/h). With further development, Archer aircraft will be designed to fly faster with increased flying range. 

While still in the prototype stage, Archer intends to reveal its full scale eVTOL aircraft in 2021, begin aircraft production in 2023, and launch customer flights in 2024.


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