Electric air taxis could soon fly passengers to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, providing an eco-friendly option to bypass city traffic.
- Air-mobility startup Archer Aviation and United Airlines have partnered to bring an air-taxi service to the windy city.
- The service will take passengers directly from Vertiport Chicago, a helicopter landing facility, to the O’Hare International Airport, avoiding road traffic.
- The service is expected to start moving passengers by 2025.
Why it’s news
Traffic is one of the leading stresses when trying to arrive at the airport, causing many people to leave hours in advance just to avoid the possibility of getting stuck on the road.
Air-mobility startup Archer Aviation and United Airlines are launching a service in Chicago that will take customers straight from the helicopter landing port to the O’Hare International Airport—turning an hour’s drive into a 10-minute flight.
The customers will fly on an Archer eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft, providing a safe, sustainable, low-noise, and cost-competitive alternative to ground transportation.
The eVTOLs are efficient in moving customers quickly across the sky and are also entirely electric. This is an effort to make traveling in the city quicker while not adding more carbon to the atmosphere.
“Technological innovation thrives here in Chicago, and this venture between Archer and United is yet another example of this strength,” says Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.
Chicago is the third most populous city in the U.S., making it a good candidate for air taxi service. The initial routes will focus on airport transportation, and if successful, Archer plans to make more routes to other destinations within the city, according to the company.
United and Archer plan to have the service operational by 2025, but still have a few hurdles to overcome before the electric plane can become a reality. Regulators are still investigating how to safely integrate the planes into current flight patterns and what requirements pilots will need.
The Federal Aviation Administration says some companies should receive full approval by 2024.
Backing up a bit
United isn’t the only one partnering with Archer and betting on air taxis to be the future of flight—many car manufacturers are pouring millions into the sector.
Stellantis, the maker of Jeep and Chrysler vehicles, has partnered with Archer Aviation to commercialize flying taxis. The company invested $75 million into Archer in 2021 and is preparing to make another $150 million investment.
If everything goes to plan, Stellantis will be the primary manufacturer of Archer’s newest flying taxi prototype Midnight—which holds four passengers and is designed to make continuous 20-mile trips.
Air Taxi companies have been partnering with car manufacturers to keep the cost of air taxis low. The taxis are close to the size of a car, and car manufacturers have mastered the mass production of vehicles and are looking to do the same with flying taxis.