United Airlines has strengthened its commitment to purchase eVTOL air taxis from Archer Aviation with a down payment of $10 million on 100 units of the initial production version of the aircraft. The US carrier, which is an investor in the California-based startup, announced the filing on August 10.
In February 2021, United Airlines signed a tentative deal with Archer to purchase up to 200 of its four-passenger eVTOL aircraft in a deal valued at $1 billion, implying a $5 million price tag. per unit. Archer says payment before delivery represents one of the first of its kind in the nascent eVTOL industry, with several manufacturers announcing tentative sales that don’t appear to be backed by any type of formal payment schedule or deposits.
“Receiving a cash deposit is a validation of Archer’s accomplishments to date, not only in flight testing and product development, but also a great sign of confidence in our roadmap to commercialization,” said Archer CEO Adam Goldstein.
United and Archer together formed a joint eVTOL advisory committee in April this year to explore maintenance and operating 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 main hub airports.
Archer plans to have a full-size production model of its eVTOL aircraft ready in 2023, and the California-based company said it expects to receive FAA type certification in 2024. The two-seat technology demonstrator of the company called Maker has conducted several test flights since receiving its FAA airworthiness certification in December 2021.
The production model of Archer’s all-electric four-seat eVTOL is still in development. The company claims it will have a range of around 60 miles (100 kilometers) on a single charge, and fly at a top speed of around 150 mph (240 km/h).