People living in large cities worldwide often face the problem of traffic congestion, creating long commutes for even short distances across cities. Even in the age of remote work, people in urban areas must still use roads to conduct daily activities such as meeting friends or going to the gym. Traffic congestion creates additional problems, including air pollution, wasted time that could have been used more productively, and frustrated drivers.
Some companies are proposing solutions to this problem through urban air mobility. This solution involves using aircraft, including electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOLs), to transport passengers and cargo across urban areas. One company that is becoming a leader in the urban air mobility space is Archer Aviation through its Midnight eVTOL.
Archer Aviation's Plans For eVTOLs in Four Major U.S. Cities
On January 17, Archer Aviation announced a partnership with Atlantic Aviation to introduce electric aircraft operations in four major U.S. metropolitan areas. Archer Aviation specializes in eVTOL aircraft, while Atlantic Aviation provides services to entities that operate at airports. The two companies will initially offer services in the Los Angeles and New York City metropolitan areas, Northern California and South Florida.
These four regions are effective starting points for electric aviation operations due to their strong aviation infrastructure, including some of the world's busiest airports. Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, and the San Francisco Bay Area also have large populations and receive significant amounts of business and leisure travelers. Therefore, Archer wanted to establish operations in four metropolitan areas that significantly contribute to the U.S. economy.
The following airports in these four regions were among the world's 25 busiest by passenger traffic in 2022:
- 6th - Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- 11th - John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
- 14th - Miami International Airport (MIA)
- 23rd - Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
- 24th - San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Other airports in these metropolitan areas appearing in the top 50 are Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA) at 37th and 49th, respectively. Aside from receiving high inbound and outbound passenger traffic, these urban areas face the issue of significant traffic congestion. eVTOLs aim to solve this problem by flying people and items to their desired destination instead of getting stuck in traffic on the ground.
Components of Archer and Atlantic Aviation's Urban Air Mobility Plans
The two companies will utilize their existing partnerships with Beta Technologies - an aerospace manufacturer developing eVTOLs and charging infrastructure for electric aircraft - to install charging systems. Beta's chargers use the Combined Charging System, a standard for charging electric vehicles that the General Aviation Manufacturers Association recently endorsed.
Archer and Atlantic Aviation plan to launch urban air mobility in these four initial locations in 2025. Archer is working on achieving certification by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before starting commercial operations the same year. This service will eventually expand to other metropolitan areas. Both companies aim to offer a premium experience to customers while reducing aviation's contributions to global carbon emissions.
Benefits of Archer's Midnight eVTOL
Archer's Midnight eVTOL can transport four passengers across urban areas in one flight powered by a pilot. Midnight is designed to perform flights in rapid succession due to the short time required to charge the aircraft between flights. The time saved by using eVTOLs for urban transport is extensive: a 60- to 90-minute commute by car can now be completed in 10-20 minutes by air. Other benefits of eVTOLs include reduced noise, having a relatively equal cost to ground transportation, and the ability to complete essential operations without traffic congestion.
Does Archer Aviation Partner With Commercial Airlines?
Archer Aviation is working with United Airlines to establish eVTOL routes connecting airports and central business districts in the New York City and Chicago metropolitan areas. Both urban areas are major hubs for United through Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD), respectively. Archer envisions these routes initially serving passengers visiting the city centers and will eventually launch additional routes connecting other parts of these metropolitan areas. Archer's partnerships with Atlantic Aviation and United Airlines are unrelated since Chicago was not part of the agreement on January 17, and United does not have a hub in South Florida.
Archer has outlined plans for additional partnerships with commercial airlines through international expansion. In November, the company signed agreements at the Dubai Airshow to provide eVTOL service in India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Archer will work with InterGlobe Enterprises - the parent company of India's largest airline by passenger traffic, IndiGo - to purchase up to 200 Midnight eVTOLs. In the UAE, Air Chateau plans to buy up to 100 of Archer's Midnight eVTOLs for use within Dubai and other parts of the country. Other international markets will likely be announced soon as nations look to decarbonize their aviation sectors, with the entire industry having a goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
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