California-based Archer today committed to launching commercial services in Los Angeles with its four-passenger eVTOL aircraft by 2024. To prepare the way for those services, the start-up is joining the Urban Air Mobility Partnership formed in December 2020 by Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti.
The public-private partnership is being led by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and Urban Movement Labs, which is aiming to engage with the city’s residents about options for integrating so-called urban air mobility services with existing transportation infrastructure. Archer, which two weeks ago announced a $1.1 billion share flotation with the Atlas Crest Investment Corp. and a provisional order for up to 200 of its aircraft from United Airlines, has committed to supporting the city in its public education program.
Los Angeles has long been identified as a likely early-adopter for eVTOL air taxi services and was one of the cities targeted by Uber’s Elevate platform to launch initial operations beginning in 2023. However, on December 9, a week before Mayor Garcetti announced the Urban Air Mobility Partnership, Uber sold Elevate to eVTOL aircraft developer Joby Aviation, which is a direct competitor to Archer. Joby has not confirmed where it intends to launch its planned air taxi network, but Hyundai, which is also working on an eVTOL program, has already signed up to support the Los Angeles partnership.
“Our partnership with the city of Los Angeles will be one of our major milestones in bringing quick, safe, affordable everyday flight to dense urban locations, said Adam Goldstein, cofounder and co-CEO of Archer. The company’s as-yet-unnamed, all-electric eVTOL design is expected to make flights of up to 60 miles at speeds of 150 mph.
United Airlines, along with its partner Mesa Airlines, said earlier this month that it wants to use the aircraft to fly passengers to and from its airports starting in 2024. Los Angeles International Airport is a key hub for the carrier’s West Coast U.S. services.
United Airlines welcomed Archer’s commitment to establishing initial service in Los Angeles, where road congestion has long been a problem for the sprawling, and largely car-dependent, metropolitan area. “Archer’s commitment to launch their first eVTOL aircraft in one of United’s hubs means our customers are another step closer to reducing their carbon footprint at every stage of their journey before they take their seat,” commented Michael Leskinen, vice president of corporate development and investor relations at United Airlines.
Archer, which was founded in 2020, said that it intends to operate aircraft itself, as well as via partner operators. The company has previously indicated that ride costs will be comparable to those for the UberX premium car service.
“In identifying our first city partnership, it was critical to have a shared vision when it comes to how people will move around more seamlessly and with less impact on the environment around them,” commented cofounder and co-CEO Brett Adcock. “Working with Urban Movement Labs will be invaluable as we collectively advance our programs ahead of our first customer flights in 2024.”
According to Mayor Garcetti, the new partnership will help the city to build alignment among stakeholders to resolve issues such as access to public airspace and property rights, as well as develop concepts for the vertiports around which the planned services will operate. The partnership is due to run for one year and will be charged with producing “a policy toolkit that can be utilized and deployed by cities, counties, and tribal governments across the country.”
Urban Movement Labs, which was formed in November 2019, will work with a company called Estolano Advisors to recruit “an urban air mobility fellow charged with advancing a comprehensive public engagement strategy.” It has been working with Los Angeles World Airports to improve the LAX FlyAway shuttle service, as well as launching robotic last-mile delivery pilot services in partnership with Kiwibot.