WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Why take taxis through congested city streets when you can just fly to your final destination?
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A while ago London Heathrow announced that in 2025 they’d launch an air taxi service into the center of London, and now, if you’re heading to O’Hare International Airport from downtown Chicago, you too might be able to skip traffic by taking an “air taxi” instead of a traditional taxi – provided that your jaunt can wait a couple of years.
United Airlines announced Thursday that it will launch Chicago’s first commercial air taxi route in 2025, leveraging electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft to transport people between hotspots.
The Future of Transportation, by keynote Matthew Griffin
Beginning in 2025, residents and tourists can hop onto an Archer Aviation “Midnight” eVTOL from Vertiport Chicago to O’Hare International Airport and vice versa. Vertiport Chicago, the continent’s largest eVTOL takeoff and landing facility, is conveniently located near several medical, shopping, and recreation amenities, making it an ideal hub for the city’s new transportation option. A flight between the two take off and landing points will take about 10 minutes, compared with 35 minutes of driving (in light traffic) and an hour of public transit use.
That could be a pretty comfortable 10 minutes. With a total payload capacity of 1,000 pounds, Midnight can carry up to four passengers with minimal luggage, making it a practical transportation option for business travellers, couples, or small families. It’s also said to be far quieter than a helicopter at just 45 dBA (versus helicopters’ 100 dBA or more). Archer hasn’t offered a lot of visibility into Midnight’s cabin, but sneak peeks appear to show wide seats with harness-style seat belts, similar to the kind you’d wear on an open-door helicopter ride.
“Both Archer and United are committed to decarbonizing air travel and leveraging innovative technologies to deliver on the promise of the electrification of the aviation industry,” said United Airlines Ventures president Michael Leskinen on Thursday. “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.”
See the newest flying taxi unveiled
United first expressed public interest in eVTOL transportation last year when it shared that it had purchased 200 electric air taxis from Eve Air Mobility. Just before this announcement, United had promised Archer a minimum purchase of $10 million to get travellers to and from airports via eVTOL. Both investments are part of United’s plan to become carbon neutral without using traditional offsets by 2050 – a goal well complemented by the state of Illinois, which aims to use 100% clean energy by the same year.