United Airlines Wants Electric VTOL Flying Taxis in Chicago by 2025

A render of the eVTOL craft with "coming in 2025" written underneath.
A render of the eVTOL craft with "coming in 2025" written underneath.

United is the breeze in my hair on the weekend.

Apparently, flying cars are the future of personal transport and, one day, we’ll all be zipping around in the skies getting from A to B with ease. But as it stands, no flying cars actually exist yet, so we have to make do with startups around the world promising to build new, all-electric aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL), and calling them airborne taxis. One such concept has been adopted by United Airlines, which is planning to launch the first commercial flying taxi service starting in 2025.

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To launch its new service, United has partnered with startup Archer Aviation, which plans to put its eVTOL craft into production next year. The airline has so far spent $1 billion on orders for the Archer Midnight, seen here, which promises a range of up to 100 miles and a top speed of 150 mph.

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Now, United Airlines has outlined its plans for the new craft, which it hopes to use on a “flying taxi” service between Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Vertiport Chicago, an eVTOL base near the city’s medical district.

A render of the Midnight craft from Archer Aviation.
A render of the Midnight craft from Archer Aviation.

Is this eVTOL concept as realistic as snow on the beach?

When the service, which was first covered by Ars Technica, launches in 2025, United says journey times between central Chicago and the airport will take “approximately 10 minutes.” In contrast, the same trip by car could take more than an hour today.

In a press release, Michael Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures, said that the new service would offer travelers a “more sustainable, convenient and cost-effective mode of transportation.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, who said the initiative was “paving the way for a more sustainable future for our state, our nation, and our world.” Lofty claims from both, here.

As it stands, United says the service will launch in 2025 as a test bed that could one day be expanded to connect further local communities.

A render of the interior of the Midnight eVTOL craft.
A render of the interior of the Midnight eVTOL craft.

Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve put more seats back there.

But there is one big hurdle to overcome before United’s dreams of a flying taxi service can become a reality: the Archer Midnight needs to make it off the page and into the real world.

As it stands, the company hopes to put its craft into production in 2024. In order to hit that target, the company has already signed a partnership with Stellantis, of all companies, where the automaker will act as the “exclusive contract manufacturer” for the eVTOL craft.

Archer says it plans to have its first aircraft built by Q4 of this year, before it works with the Federal Aviation Administration to gain certification for the craft.

Once all that happens, Archer hopes to begin building its craft at a facility in Covington, Georgia, before United puts them into service. Do you think it’ll manage all that before the end of 2025?

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