United Airlines has signed an agreement to work with Archer, a startup developing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, as part of its effort to invest in emerging technologies that are more environmentally friendly than traditional air travel.

Under the agreement, United will contribute its airspace management to assist Archer with the development of battery-powered, short-haul aircraft. Once in operation and having met requirements for operation, United, along with Mesa Airlines, would acquire a fleet of up to 200 electric aircraft that would be operated by a partner and contribute to the airline’s hub airports and low-carbon commute strategy for urban environments. United hopes to be off the ground with the aircraft in the next five years.

Archer’s aircraft are designed to travel distances of up to 60 miles at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour. United said that future models will be designed to travel faster and further while at the same time reducing CO2 emissions by 47% per passenger on a trip between Hollywood and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) — which is one of the initial cities where Archer plans to launch services.

"Part of how United will combat global warming is by embracing emerging technologies that decarbonize air travel,” said Scott Kirby, CEO of United. “By working with Archer, United is showing the aviation industry that now is the time to embrace cleaner, more efficient modes of transportation. With the right technology, we can curb the impact aircraft have on the planet, but we have to identify the next generation of companies who will make this a reality early and find ways to help them get off the ground.”

Archer plans to unveil a full scale eVTOL aircraft this year and begin aircraft production in 2023 with a goal of launching consumer flights beginning in 2024.

Last month, Archer entered into an agreement with Fiat Chrysler to develop eVTOL flying cars and is working with the startup to provide resources and capabilities for future air mobility.

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