United Airlines is investing $15 million to buy 200 vertical take-off and landing electric vehicles from Eve Air Mobility, the company confirmed on Thursday. Image by United Airlines
Sept. 8 (UPI) — United Airlines is investing $15 million to buy 200 vertical take-off and landing electric vehicles, the Chicago-based company said in a statement on Thursday.
The conditional purchase agreement is with Eve Air Mobility, a subsidiary of Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, and calls for 200 of the four-seat electric aircraft.
United also has an option to purchase a further 200 of the flying taxis, with the first deliveries expected to occur as early as 2026.
The two companies also intend to work together on future projects and develop the application of the aircraft for use in what the airline is terming the “urban air mobility (UAM) ecosystem.”
This isn’t United’s first foray into the eVTOL space. Last month, the world’s fourth-largest airline gave a $10-million deposit to California-based Archer Aviation for 100 similar aircraft, as it attempts to be at the forefront of the new technology. At the time, Archer called it a “watershed moment” for the entire industry.
The purchase is part of United’s goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 without the use of traditional offsets.
The air taxis do not rely on traditional combustion engines. Instead, the aircraft use carbon-free electric motors, “to be used as ‘air taxis’ in urban markets.”
Eve’s particular design uses conventional fixed wings, rotors and pushers to operate.
The vehicles have a range of 60 miles and are 90% quieter than current conventional aircraft.
The company plans to begin conducting simulation tests next week in Chicago, beginning with ground tests and followed by passenger flights, using helicopters powered by Blade Air Mobility.
“United has made early investments in several cutting-edge technologies at all levels of the supply chain, staking out our position as a leader in aviation sustainability and innovation,” Michael Leskinen, president of the company’s innovation wing, United Airlines Ventures said in a statement.
“Today, United is making history again, by becoming the first major airline to publicly invest in two eVTOL companies. Our agreement with Eve highlights our confidence in the urban air mobility market and serves as another important benchmark toward our goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 — without using traditional offsets. Together, we believe our suite of clean energy technologies will revolutionize air travel as we know it and serve as the catalyst for the aviation industry to move toward a sustainable future.”