United Airlines Set To Buy 200 Flying Electric Taxis To Fly Passengers In Next Five Years
United Airlines plans to invest in 200 flying electric taxis that will fly passengers in dense urban environments to their nearest airport.
It makes the airline one of the first to commit to the use of flying taxis, which it hopes to put to use in the next five years.
In partnership with a regional carrier Mesa Airlines, it has invested in air mobility firm Archer as part of a $1.1 billion (£800 million) deal to develop the environmentally-friendly aircraft.
In a statement yesterday, February 10, United Airlines said it plans to use the taxis for short-haul journeys, such as flying passengers over congested highways to hub airports. The aircraft will need regulatory approval before the purchase can go ahead.
It said the move is part of the airline’s broader effort to invest in emerging technologies that decarbonise air travel.
According to Archer, the taxis will be able to fly a distance of 60 miles at speeds up to 150mph and have the potential to halve carbon dioxide emissions of passengers travelling to the airport. The taxis will also be capable of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL).
‘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,’ United’s CEO Scott Kirby said.
One September 2020 study, published by Carbon Brief, found that the total historical cumulative carbon dioxide emissions from aviation amount to 32.6 billion tonnes since 1940. Nearly 50% of these emissions were in the last 20 years.
The growing climate crisis has led several companies to explore the option of flying electric taxis.
One flying taxi firm, Volocopter, is planning to trial journeys into city centres using its VoloCity electric air taxi.
Another market leader in this area is electric aircraft developer Joby Aviation.
In December 2020, ride-sharing business Uber sold its flying taxi arm, Elevate, to Joby Aviation, describing the sale as an ‘extended partnership’.
‘This deal allows us to deepen our partnership with Joby, the clear leader in this field, to accelerate the path to market for these technologies,’ Uber’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement.
Under the deal, Uber will also invest an additional $75m (£56m) in Joby Aviation to help develop the aircraft.
As per BBC News, Joby’s zero-emissions aircraft will seat four passengers and feature a vertical takeoff and landing.
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