They have the potential to revolutionize air travel in cities around the world, United says.

By Eric Kiefer

On Thursday, United Airlines announced that it is investing $15 million in Eve Air Mobility with a conditional purchase agreement for 200 four-seat electric aircraft, plus an option to buy 200 more.

NEWARK, NJ — United Airlines is on the “Eve” of a new paradigm when it comes to air travel, the company says. And according to United, its goal of creating a fleet of electric flying taxis continues to lift off.

On Thursday, the Chicago-headquartered airline – which maintains a hub in Newark, New Jersey – announced that it is investing $15 million in Eve Air Mobility with a conditional purchase agreement for 200 four-seat electric aircraft, plus an option to buy 200 more. The first deliveries of the cutting-edge vehicles may come as early as 2026.

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies intend to work on future projects, including studies on the development, use and application of Eve’s aircraft and the urban air mobility (UAM) ecosystem.

This week’s announcement marks another big investment from United in flying taxis – or electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs) – which “have the potential to revolutionize the commuter experience in cities around the world,” the airline claims.

What makes the vehicles so unique? According to United, rather than relying on traditional combustion engines, eVTOL aircraft are designed to use electric motors, providing carbon-free flights and making them excellent fits to serve as “air taxis” in urban markets.

And that goes for the hundreds of eVTOLs United plans to buy from Eve Air Mobility, the airline said:

“Eve’s design uses conventional fixed wings, rotors and pushers, giving it a practical and intuitive lift-plus-cruise design, which favors safety, efficiency, reliability and certifiability. With a range of 60 miles (100 km), its vehicle has the potential not only to offer a sustainable commute but also to reduce noise levels by 90 percent compared to current conventional aircraft. Eve is also creating a new air traffic management solution designed for the UAM industry to scale safely. This software is intended to perform at the same safety level as Embraer’s existing air traffic management software and expected to be a strategic asset to helping the entire industry grow.”

The end result? People could be flying to the airport in just a few years – not driving.

According to a spokesperson for United, the below artist rendering of the vehicles they released this week is a “mock up,” and there could still be design changes between now and when the final aircraft is operational. But there’s no doubt that change is in the air – literally, the company says.

Last year, United became the first major U.S. airline to create a corporate venture fund, United Airlines Ventures (UAV), designed to support the company’s “100 percent green commitment” to reach net zero emissions by 2050 without the use of traditional offsets.

Through UAV, United has launched investments in eVTOL and electric aircraft, hydrogen fuel cell engines and sustainable aviation fuel. Last month, United gave a $10 million deposit to a California-based eVTOL company for 100 aircraft. 

“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,” said Michael Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures.

“Today, United is making history again, by becoming the first major airline to publicly invest in two eVTOL companies,” Leskinen said. “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.”

Via Patch.com

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