Short-range airline flights are horrible in terms of both cost and environmental impact. United Airlines is looking for an alternative: small, low-passenger flights enabled by next-gen electric planes that can take off and land like helicopters. A huge order for new aircraft from a startup company will test out the idea.
The US-based airline megacorp has put in a jaw-dropping $1 billion dollar order for a new generation of small electric-powered planes capable of vertical takeoff and landing, like a helicopter. The “eVTOL” craft from startup company Archer Aviation. That’ll deliver 200 of the small designs to United and its regional partner Mesa Airlines, with an option to extend the deal for $500 million more (presumably another 50 planes).
United hopes to use the Archer planes for environmentally-friendly shuttle service in California within three years. According to the company’s promotional materials, the Archer electric prop plane can carry four passengers “up to 60 miles” at 150 miles an hour. So this shuttle service wouldn’t be able to go from Los Angeles to San Francisco, but it could get you from one side of LA to the other in the span of one Futurama episode. And since it can take off and land like a helicopter, you won’t need a commercial airport with half a mile of runway at both ends of the trip.
United hasn’t said anything about its plans for the price of these low-distance, low-passenger routes. Assume that it’s more than you can afford if you don’t already own your own plane.
Source: Business Insider