United Airlines has reinforced its commitment to purchasing eVTOL air taxis from Archer Aviation with a $10 million down payment on 100 units of the initial production version of the aircraft. The U.S. carrier, which is an investor in the California-based start-up, announced the deposit on August 10.
In February 2021, United Airlines signed a provisional agreement with Archer to purchase up to 200 of its four-passenger eVTOL aircraft in a deal valued at $1 billion, implying a price tag of $5 million per unit. Archer says the pre-delivery payment represents one of the first of its kind in the nascent eVTOL industry, with multiple manufacturers having announced provisional sales that appear not to be backed by any type of formal payment schedule or deposits.
“To receive a cash deposit is validation of Archer’s achievements to date, not only with flight testing and product development, but also a great signal of confidence in our roadmap to commercialization,” said Archer CEO Adam Goldstein.
United and Archer formed a joint eVTOL advisory committee together in April of this year to explore maintenance and operational arrangements for the new eVTOL aircraft, which Archer aims to bring into commercial service in 2024. United plans to use the aircraft to transport customers to and from its major hub airports.
Archer plans to have a full-size production model of its eVTOL aircraft ready in 2023, and the California-based company has said that it expects to receive FAA type certification in 2024. The company’s two-seat technology demonstrator called Maker has performed multiple flight tests since it received its FAA airworthiness certification in December 2021.
The production model of Archer’s all-electric, four-seat eVTOL is still in development. The company says it will have a range of about 60 miles (100 kilometers) on a single charge, and it will fly at a top speed of about 150 mph (240 km/h).