Beginning in 2024, Archer plans to launch an urban air mobility (UAM) network in the skies above Los Angeles — a hub for United Airlines, which recently invested in the startup and conditionally agreed to purchase up to $1 billion of eVTOL aircraft.
Archer, which recently announced plans to go public via a merger with Atlas Crest Investment Corporation, will join a partnership launched in December by the mayor’s office, L.A. Department of Transportation (LADOT), and Urban Movement Labs, along with other partners. Funded in part by Hyundai’s newly-formed UAM division, the program will tackle local policy, education initiatives, and examine ideal placement of vertiports in the city.
“We are committed to a community-first approach to maximize the public benefits of UAM and will work with the UAM industry, regulators and government agencies, and the public to gather input through a request for information (RFI) on vertiport design, networks, and implementation,” Lilly Shoup, executive director of Urban Movement Labs, told eVTOL.com.
It’s a sensible first commitment for both Archer and United, which counts Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as one of its major hubs. Speaking to an investor-centric audience on Monday, Michael Leskinen, the airline’s vice president of corporate development and investor relations, expressed confidence in deploying Archer’s five-seat eVTOL aircraft by mid-decade.
“United Airlines has hubs in all the major business cities of the United States and congestion is a big issue,” Leskinen said during the event, hosted by IPO Edge. “This vehicle has the opportunity to make it easier to get to the airports and to do it quieter and safer . . . We partnered with Archer because we think they have the approach to get to market quickly with current technology.”
A spokesperson for Archer declined to answer details regarding which company will operate the service. Archer intends to generate revenue both through aircraft sales and operating service networks.
LA was previously a launch market for Uber Elevate, which has since been integrated into Joby Aviation. In December, Joby confirmed it is not currently a part of the city’s post-Elevate UAM partnership, which left open the question of what aircraft the city’s partnership would be considering as it designed vertiports for future operations.
Archer’s aircraft, named Maker, appears to be LA’s answer — though the company has only shown renderings of a two-seat, non-conforming prototype to date. The Palo Alto-based startup plans to reveal and fly its full-scale prototype sometime this year.
“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, co-founder and co-CEO of Archer.