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United Airlines' Future eVTOL Revealed: The Archer Midnight

SimpleFlying 11/21/2022 Channing Reid
© Provided by SimpleFlying

US Legacy carrier United Airlines is one step closer to bringing its operation to new heights. The carrier last week unveiled the aircraft it plans to utilize for its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) service debut thanks to its partnership with aircraft manufacturer Archer Aviation. Both companies also announced the first proposed route for the new aircraft a few days prior.

Archer introduced its production eVTOL aircraft, titled Midnight, at an open house event in Palo Alto, CA, on Thursday. The aircraft will carry four passengers and one pilot and is an advancement of the original demonstrator plane, the Maker. Similarly, the Midnight uses innovative technology to provide a low-noise, sustainable, and safe alternative to helicopters.

Quiet, electric flight is about to take off

The Midnight, expected to be a game-changer in the industry, will provide convenience to travelers getting around in big cities. Archer said the new aircraft is optimized for back-to-back short-distance trips of approximately 20 miles flying at up to 150 mph, with a charging time of about 10 minutes in-between.

The plane is designed to cruise at approximately 2,000 feet with a unique design that will enable ground-level noise to measure around 45 A-weighted decibels (dBA), almost 1,000 times quieter than a helicopter, according to the manufacturer. In addition, the Midnight spins 12 small propellers rather than one large rotor at significantly lower tip speeds, resulting in much lower noise levels.

Adam Goldstein, Archer Aviation Founder and CEO said,

“From day one Archer’s strategy has always been about finding the most efficient path to commercializing eVTOL aircraft. We believe our strategy and team's ability to execute on it has allowed us to establish our leadership position in the market, and is why we are confident we will be the first company to certify an eVTOL aircraft in the US with the FAA.”

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The first route announced

On November 10th, United and Archer announced that New York would be the first route to commence commercial eVTOL operations. The Midnight will fly between Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and the Downtown Manhattan Heliport in New York City, just above Battery Park on Pier 6, connecting travelers directly to the city from a major airport hub.

According to Archer, the heliport has been confirmed as the first planned takeoff and landing site as part of the company’s broader plan to launch an Urban Air Mobility (UAM) network across the New York Metropolitan Area.

“We’re excited to be confirming New York as the first of many routes we’ll be announcing alongside United as we work to build out our national UAM network,” said Goldstein. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with United and to working closely with state and local government leaders in the New York and New Jersey area as we bring this exciting new form of transportation to life.”

The perfect city for a debut

EWR airport’s location is fitting for United to streamline the first-of-its-kind UAM network. The airline will be able to serve surrounding New Jersey communities and neighborhoods in addition to reaching the busy environment in Manhattan.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams also spoke about the proposed service.

"We are thrilled that Archer and United Airlines have selected to launch their first route right here in our New York City. We want New York to be a place of bold innovation and outside the box thinking, and I encourage other companies to follow their lead."

Archer said the journey from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport to EWR airport is estimated to take less than 10 minutes. A similar journey by car can take upwards of an hour or more during rush hour traffic.

Michael Leskinen, President of United Airlines Ventures, said its partnership with Archer would benefit the airline and its customers.

“Once operational, electric air taxis will fundamentally change how United customers experience comfort, convenience, and efficiency during their commutes to the airport. Archer’s New York to Newark route marks another important benchmark towards providing a carbon-neutral and safe commute that drastically reduces the travel time and produces a fraction of the sound emitted by helicopters.”

Archer plans to expand its UAM network to communities around the US once its launch routes between major hubs and cities are established. The company is working towards FAA certification of the Midnight in late 2024, hoping to launch the service in 2025.

Sources: Archer Aviation, Archer Aviation

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