After a kink, the business of electric passenger transport with drones is picking up again. Archer received an order from the US airline for the startup’s first commercial product. There is an additional purchase option for an additional 100 copies for $ 500 million. This is reported by CNBC. The aircraft is expected to come onto the market in 2024 and have a range of around 100 kilometers. There is space for four passengers. The manufacturer specifies a maximum speed of around 240 kilometers per hour. Observers assume that the aircraft should handle the transfer of passengers between parking lots and airports. Passenger transport between nearby cities, such as between San Francisco and Palo Alto, is also conceivable.
Stellantis helps Archer with the chassis
The US airline is not the first company to provide money to the drone manufacturer. The automotive group Stellantis, recently formed from the merger between Fiat-Chrysler and the Peugeot Group, is also investing. He also supports the construction of the eVTOL (electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing). The focus is on the manufacture of the carbon fiber fuselage of the mini aircraft. Archer’s first passenger transport drone is still controlled by a pilot, later the taxis will fly autonomously. Various car manufacturers (such as Hyundai, Porsche, Rolls Royce) are involved in similar projects. Most recently VW signaled that they should ask around in the eVTOL sector in China.
Alternative to the helicopter
While the well-off can already be flown to the airports with helicopters, an alternative is to transfer with air taxis. Archer promises that the flights will be much cheaper. The costs are comparable to an Uber trip. The vice-boss speaks of three dollars per passenger-mile. There is also the potential to make the flights safer and quieter. The electric modes of transportation generate minimal noise, say proponents of the technology. They also emit less pollutants than helicopters. United hopes with this commitment to improve the carbon footprint.
Regulation delayed project
There is another obstacle to the challenges of the construction: the approval. The US FAA is responsible for approving new aircraft designs. According to reports, this will take several years. In addition, air traffic control must be reorganized in order to coordinate the air taxi traffic with the rest of the air traffic. According to the contract between Archer and United Airlines, the legal requirements are part of the preliminary purchase agreement. The paper also contains a number of other conditions that have not yet been negotiated in detail. Observers describe the document as “not even a letter of intent”. It is hardly a handshake.