Archer and United Airlines have chosen the O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to launch the first air taxi route in Chicago. The route will be between ORD and Vertiport Chicago, North America's largest vertical aircraft take-off and landing facility.
This is the next expansion of the urban air mobility (UAM) network build-out, utilizing Archer's electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Chicago is a major transportation center and ORD is one of the largest operational hubs in the U.S., proving the perfect location for the site of increased UAM operations. United and Archer are working with partners like the Chicago Department of Aviation, World Business Chicago and Vertiport Chicago to develop appropriate infrastructure in the Chicago Metropolitan area to support the new eVTOL operations in the transportation system by 2025.
"Both Archer and United are committed to decarbonizing air travel and leveraging innovative technologies to deliver on the promise of the electrification of the aviation industry," President of United Airlines Ventures Michael Leskinen said. "Once operational, we're excited to offer our customers a more sustainable, convenient and cost-effective mode of transportation during their commutes to the airport."
The Vertiport Chicago is located in the Illinois Medical District near the Chicago Loop and was selected for its convenience, access and service. Passengers will have the ability to travel to and from ORD with Archer's Midnight in roughly ten minutes. Making this same trip in a car can take up to an hour or more, depending on traffic conditions. The goal of the partnership is to provide residents and visitors to the Chicago area with a new safe, low noise and sustainable alternative to ground transportation. Chicago is the third most populous city in the U.S. and serves as a center of innovation and business, as well as the home of the United's headquarters.
"Vertiport Chicago is delighted to participate alongside United Airlines and Archer in revolutionizing intra-city travel in Chicago," said Daniel Mojica, the Executive Director of Vertiport Chicago. "This partnership will inspire other cities to plan for cutting-edge transportation solutions."
Early launch routes will focus on airport to city center transportation services known as "trunk" routes and once these have been established, build "branch" routes to connect to surrounding communities.
"Technological innovation thrives here in Chicago, and this venture between Archer and United is yet another example of this strength," Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot said. "This exciting new technology will further decarbonize our means of transportation, taking us another step forward in our fight against climate change. I'm pleased that Chicago residents will be among the first in the nation to experience this innovative, convenient form of travel."
Archer has been developing eVTOL aircraft like the Midnight, unveiled in November. The Maker completed its successful first transition to a full wing-borne flight in late 2022, less than one year after the first hover flight. The Maker is a small group of full-scale eVTOL aircraft that have accomplished this stage of testing. The Midnight was unveiled at Archer's open house, validating its proprietary twelve-tilt-six configuration and other key enabling technologies.RELATED STORIES:WATCH: Archer's Maker completes first full wing-borne flightArcher unveils new eVTOL aircraft Midnight at open house
The eVTOL market is growing as the push for net zero carbon emissions by 2050 continues to be a topic in the industry. These electric aircraft are at the front and center of a proposed air taxi system, meant to offer customers a new way to travel sustainably by air.
"Here in Illinois, we are taking bold steps to lead the clean revolution—paving the way for a more sustainable future for our state, our nation, and our world," Governor JB Pritzker said. "I can't think of a better team than Archer and United to partner with as we work to ensure our existing aviation infrastructure can support this new and exciting form of transportation. This partnership is just another way that we will achieve our goal of transitioning to 100% clean energy by 2050—all while saving Illinoisan's money and creating thousands of good-paying jobs in the process."
"We're thrilled to add Chicago to our growing list of initial launch cities as we continue to solidify our UAM network plans," Archer founder and CEO Adam Goldstein said. "We're looking forward to working with state and city leaders to bring an innovative transportation solution to the City of Chicago and its surrounding communities."