United plans to fly people from the city centers of New York and Chicago to major airports using a 4-seat electric air taxi

  • United Airlines and electric aircraft manufacturer Archer Aviation have announced a second air taxi route.

  • The pair plans to fly between Chicago's city center and O'Hare International Airport starting in 2025.

  • Archer's four-seater air taxi is known as Midnight and can complete the flight in 10 minutes.

United Airlines and electric aircraft manufacturer Archer Aviation have announced another approved air tax route in the US.

united airlines
United Airlines Boeing wide body 777-200 aircraft.Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starting in 2025, United passengers will be able to connect from Chicago's city center to O'Hare International Airport using Archer's 4-seater electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft known as Midnight.

Archer's Midnight eVTOL in flight with United Airlines livery.
United Airlines

Source: Archer Aviation

Specifically, the route will fly between O'Hare — the US' third busiest airport — and Vertiport Chicago, which is a helicopter facility located in the Illinois Medical District west of the Loop.

White helicopter sitting at Veriport Chicago.
Traditional helicopters are currently used to connect to the heliport to O'Hare.Veriport Chicago

Source: Archer Aviation, World Population View

According to Archer, the flight will take approximately 10 minutes, allowing passengers to avoid congested city traffic, noting "a similar trip by car can take upwards of an hour or more during rush hour."

Archer's Midnight eVTOL.
Archer's Midnight eVTOL.Archer Aviation

Source: Archer Aviation

"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," United United Airlines Ventures president Michael Leskinen said.

Archer's Midnight eVTOL with a person walking next to it.
Archer Aviation

Source: Archer Aviation

The Chicago route will complement the duo's already announced flight between downtown Manhattan to Newark Liberty International Airport — a major United hub.

United planes at adjacent gates at Newark.
United aircraft at Newark.Taylor Rains/Insider

Source: Archer Aviation

The New York City route is the first-ever commercial eVTOL route announced in the US, marking a major milestone in urban air mobility — a market airlines see as a promising way to reduce their carbon footprint and offer more convenience to customers.

Joby Aviation.
Delta made a $60 million investment into Joby Aviation's eVTOL (pictured) in October 2022.Delta Air Lines

Source: Archer Aviation

"This exciting new technology will further decarbonize our means of transportation, taking us another step forward in our fight against climate change," Chicago mayor Lori E. Lightfoot said.

The production plant in Georgia.
A rendering of Archer's planned production plant in Georgia.Archer Aviation

Source: Archer Aviation

To operate these routes, United has agreed to buy up to 200 Midnight eVTOLs in a deal worth $1 billion. The aircraft can carry up to four people, their luggage, and one pilot…

The interior of Archer's Midnight eVTOL with wide seats with headrests.
Archer Aviation

Source: Archer AviationUnited just ordered $1 billion worth of eVTOLs from a startup that aims to launch intra-city passenger flights in 2024

…and fly up to 150 miles per hour across 100 miles. However, Archer said Midnight has been optimized to fly back-to-back flights of about 20 miles with a rapid 12-minute recharge time in between.

The powertrain system in Archer's Midnight eVTOL.
The powertrain system in Archer's Midnight eVTOL, which allows for the rapid recharge time.Archer Aviation

Source: Archer Aviation

The company believes the cost to take the eVTOL will be "competitive with ground-based ride share."

Logo of Uber taxi car is pictured outdoors in Krakow, Poland, on October 16th, 2020.
The eVTOL will compete with companies like Uber and Lyft.Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Source: Archer Aviation

Powering the aircraft are six independent batteries that each support a pair of electric engines, which Archer says enhances safety because if one battery pack fails, the others will still run.

The propellers on the Midnight eVTOL.
Archer Aviation

Source: Archer Aviation

Moreover, the aircraft is made with "advanced" carbon fiber composite, enhancing the eVTOL's structural safety and performance.

The carbon composite structure on Archer's Midnight eVTOL.
Archer Aviation

Source: Archer Aviation

"Midnight has no single critical points of failure, meaning that should any single component fail, the aircraft can still safely complete its flight," the company said in a press release.

Archer's all-black Midnight eVTOL.
Archer Aviation

Source: Archer Aviation

Not only will Midnight be a safe and efficient way to save time, but it is also a low-noise alternative to taking a helicopter — a nuisance New York City locals have long complained about.

Blade helicopter
Blade offers helicopter rides throughout New York City.Blade

Take a closer look at the new helicopter-like electric aircraft that can transport 5 people across hundreds of miles

Designed to cruise at 2,000 feet, the noise from Midnight that reaches that ground will be almost 1,000 times quieter than a conventional helicopter, according to Archer.

Archer's all-black Midnight eVTOL.
Archer Aviation

Source: Archer Aviation

Midnight was officially revealed in November, but the first aircraft is already almost completely built. Archer plans to start test flights in mid-2023 as part of the aircraft's certification process.

Archer's in-production white and black Midnight eVTOL sitting in a building.
Archer's in-production Midnight eVTOL.Archer Aviation

Source: Archer Aviation

Prior to Midnight, the company was flight-testing its prototype aircraft known as Maker. A spokesperson told Insider in August 2022 that some of the same designs were applied to Midnight.

Archer Aviation's Maker eVTOL
Maker is a smaller 2-seater electric aircraft.Archer Aviation

United Airlines is getting serious about electric flying taxis that ferry passengers to nearby airports. Take a look at the Archer Aviation 'Maker' prototype.

"A lot goes on behind the scenes to advance the development of our aircraft as efficiently as we have," Archer CEO Tom Muniz said in early March.

Archer Aviation Midnight.
Archer Aviation Midnight.Archer Aviation

Source: Archer Aviation

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