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Rajahdhani
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Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Wed Feb 10, 2021 9:11 pm

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/archer-aviation-gets-a-1-billion-order-from-united-airlines-on-the-same-day-it-announces-a-deal-to-go-public-11612983906Archer Aviation Inc. said Wednesday that United Airlines Holdings Inc. placed a $1 billion order for its all-electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL), on the same day the company announced a deal that will allow the public to invest in the urban air mobility (UAM) company in the coming months.

The aircraft Archer is developing is expected to be able to transport people distances of up to 60 miles at 150 miles per hour. Archer plans to unveil a full-scale eVTOL aircraft this year and begin production in 2023.


Congratulations to them both! Bravo to UA, with truly pushing in this direction, and bravo to Archer Aviation who then partners with one of the best in the world. Here's to their success, and new heights for the market. Hopefully, this also certifies the market and we see competitors moving in similar directions profitably.
 
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OzarkD9S
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UA invests $1 Billion in STOL startup(?)

Thu Feb 11, 2021 12:50 am

https://www.yahoo.com/news/united-just- ... 18777.html

I find this hard to believe in this environment. But it does make sense in it's way.
 
2eng2efficient
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Re: UA invests $1 Billion in STOL startup(?)

Thu Feb 11, 2021 1:23 am

Agree it is hard to believe. The article says that United “invested $20 million” - so they took an equity stake in Archer? Not sure how to read it. Keep in mind Archer just went public via SPAC and is now sitting on $1.1 billion in cash.

Clearly, however the deal was structured, the significant capital expense for UA comes when the air taxis are delivered. No earlier than 2024.
 
TTailedTiger
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Re: UA invests $1 Billion in STOL startup(?)

Thu Feb 11, 2021 1:28 am

Are these autonomous aircraft?
 
catiii
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:15 am

It’s especially hard to believe when they don’t even have a prototype built and aren’t anywhere near as far along as say Joby. Does anyone believe they’ll have a manufactured, tested, and certified type in production in 3 years?

This clearly was a publicity play. UA just sent our WARN Act notices for what, 14,000 employees? They’re at the White House Friday asking for CARES 3. The unions aren’t happy with them. But yeah, go announce $1B in capex for electric air taxis that will be flown by Mesa (kudos to Jonathan Ornstein for continuing to steal money from carriers).
Last edited by catiii on Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
iamlucky13
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:16 am

United press release:

https://hub.united.com/2021-02-10-unite ... 26294.html

Under the terms of the agreement, United will contribute its expertise in airspace management to assist Archer with the development of battery-powered, short-haul aircraft. Once the aircraft are in operation and have met United's operating and business requirements, United, together with Mesa Airlines, would acquire a fleet of up to 200 of these electric aircraft


So as has been the case with a couple startups proposing advanced concepts, there are clear contingency terms involved (once met expectations...up to). If they put $20 million into the company, they could view that in the worst case as good publicity they can use for few years at moderate cost compared to their $200 million per year advertising budget. In the best case, Archer actually gets this aircraft certified and is able to sell it for a reasonable cost, and United gets to be the first in line to create a new type of service.
 
airzona11
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:54 am

iamlucky13 wrote:
United press release:

https://hub.united.com/2021-02-10-unite ... 26294.html

Under the terms of the agreement, United will contribute its expertise in airspace management to assist Archer with the development of battery-powered, short-haul aircraft. Once the aircraft are in operation and have met United's operating and business requirements, United, together with Mesa Airlines, would acquire a fleet of up to 200 of these electric aircraft


So as has been the case with a couple startups proposing advanced concepts, there are clear contingency terms involved (once met expectations...up to). If they put $20 million into the company, they could view that in the worst case as good publicity they can use for few years at moderate cost compared to their $200 million per year advertising budget. In the best case, Archer actually gets this aircraft certified and is able to sell it for a reasonable cost, and United gets to be the first in line to create a new type of service.


Great summary.

Exciting to think about changes to the stale/boring model of today. There will be disruption. The major airlines have the economies of scale and size to play today’s game and if they are smart be part of the evolving airline landscape if it does indeed change.
 
iamlucky13
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:03 am

airzona11 wrote:
Exciting to think about changes to the stale/boring model of today. There will be disruption. The major airlines have the economies of scale and size to play today’s game and if they are smart be part of the evolving airline landscape if it does indeed change.


It would be a change, but not really a disruption to the existing airline industry. The 60 mile routes I know of today are extremely few and far between. More range is needed to disrupt the main market for air travel.

It appears me the hypothetical opportunity here is getting from one side of a metro area to another quickly, or between nearby metro areas, as well as getting to a major airport from the nearby areas. I suspect part of what United is thinking is that if this aircraft did come to fruition, it would be another way to help feed their mainline.
 
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alberchico
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:50 am

Why didn't they team up with Joby ? Aviation Week recently analyzed all the EVTOL designs in development worldwide and rated Joby as the only American entrant with the highest chance of success.

https://aamrealityindex.com/

Considering that Joby already has a prototype flying, this company seems credible. Feels like United screwed up big time on this.

https://aviationweek.com/aerospace/urba ... -simulator

Here is a comparison of the 2 evtol concepts and more info on the Archer design:

https://newatlas.com/aircraft/archer-av ... ol-united/

Image

Image
Last edited by alberchico on Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
slcdeltarumd11
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:06 am

Please don't attack me here, just wondering if United was in their minds heading towards an inevitable filing for bankruptcy eventually.......could it be a good long term move to spend this cash now on something that could pay out in the future?

Even if there is a CARES3 its not gonna be enough time for the demand to come back, at some point United might think it's inevitable and this allows them to invest in something that could pay out alot in the future. Even if there is a CARES3, does anyone really see that being enough at this point? International long haul and business travel isn't coming back anytime soon, there would need to be a CARES 9 to ride them out. AA and UA really look like they are in trouble, i cant see the public wanting to do a CARES3 and 4 to only find them file for bankruptcy anyway. Just a thought
 
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alberchico
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:14 am

slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
Please don't attack me here, just wondering if United was in their minds heading towards an inevitable filing for bankruptcy eventually.......could it be a good long term move to spend this cash now on something that could pay out in the future?

Even if there is a CARES3 its not gonna be enough time for the demand to come back, at some point United might think it's inevitable and this allows them to invest in something that could pay out alot in the future. Even if there is a CARES3, does anyone really see that being enough at this point? International long haul and business travel isn't coming back anytime soon, there would need to be a CARES 9 to ride them out. AA and UA really look like they are in trouble, i cant see the public wanting to do a CARES3 and 4 to only find them file for bankruptcy anyway. Just a thought


By the time these evtol designs are certified and enter service in large scale numbers, if that ever happens, the airline industry will have largely recovered from the effects of the pandemic. I do wonder why they chose this obscure company to team up with. Maybe there is something extremely promising or innovative about their concept that caught their eye that convinced them to make this huge leap.

Here is their business plan if anyone is interested:

https://investors.archer.com/files/doc_ ... tation.pdf
Last edited by alberchico on Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
Someone83
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:34 am

I think it is safe to say that this $1.1 billion order can be defined as a "LoI" or similar
 
Antarius
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:52 am

alberchico wrote:
slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
Please don't attack me here, just wondering if United was in their minds heading towards an inevitable filing for bankruptcy eventually.......could it be a good long term move to spend this cash now on something that could pay out in the future?

Even if there is a CARES3 its not gonna be enough time for the demand to come back, at some point United might think it's inevitable and this allows them to invest in something that could pay out alot in the future. Even if there is a CARES3, does anyone really see that being enough at this point? International long haul and business travel isn't coming back anytime soon, there would need to be a CARES 9 to ride them out. AA and UA really look like they are in trouble, i cant see the public wanting to do a CARES3 and 4 to only find them file for bankruptcy anyway. Just a thought


By the time these evtol designs are certified and enter service in large scale numbers, if that ever happens, the airline industry will have largely recovered from the effects of the pandemic. I do wonder why they chose this obscure company to team up with. Maybe there is something extremely promising or innovative about their concept that caught their eye that convinced them to make this huge leap.

Here is their business plan if anyone is interested:

https://investors.archer.com/files/doc_ ... tation.pdf


Hope so.

That said, with United's relatively recent history, if it seems fishy, it's got a chance of being so. #EWRtoCAE
 
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jetblastdubai
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 7:14 am

From the photos, it appears that the A/C has seating for only 2. One pilot and one pax. Not sure how much luggage volume/weight will be permitted but it's going to take a LOT of round trips to pay for this machine. ATC-wise, having a near-constant stream of these crafts arriving and departing from a dedicated "heliport" is going to be challenge. The helicopter pilots that operate in the Bay area, NYC area or the LA Basin know the area like the back of their hand because they've spent most of their career there.

No offense to the Archer/Mesa pilot group, but when you start putting a lot of new pilots in congested airspace with multiple dedicated helicopter routes to fly and still try to mix in and around the existing fixed wing and local helicopter operations chances are something bad will happen sooner than later. It seems like a whole lot of investment in aircraft and personnel just to whisk one passenger around (or maybe 3 if there's a 4-seater option).

From the photos, it also appears that the pax sits next to the pilot. What's to keep the pax from attempting to obstruct or distract the pilot...or worse? Normally, there is a Kevlar door between passengers and the aircraft controls. Lots of variables to be worked out yet.
 
BlueberryWheats
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 8:24 am

jetblastdubai wrote:
From the photos, it appears that the A/C has seating for only 2. One pilot and one pax. Not sure how much luggage volume/weight will be permitted but it's going to take a LOT of round trips to pay for this machine. ATC-wise, having a near-constant stream of these crafts arriving and departing from a dedicated "heliport" is going to be challenge. The helicopter pilots that operate in the Bay area, NYC area or the LA Basin know the area like the back of their hand because they've spent most of their career there.

No offense to the Archer/Mesa pilot group, but when you start putting a lot of new pilots in congested airspace with multiple dedicated helicopter routes to fly and still try to mix in and around the existing fixed wing and local helicopter operations chances are something bad will happen sooner than later. It seems like a whole lot of investment in aircraft and personnel just to whisk one passenger around (or maybe 3 if there's a 4-seater option).

From the photos, it also appears that the pax sits next to the pilot. What's to keep the pax from attempting to obstruct or distract the pilot...or worse? Normally, there is a Kevlar door between passengers and the aircraft controls. Lots of variables to be worked out yet.


I'm guessing the final in-service craft won't look those photos.
 
KCaviator
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 12:25 pm

This is laughable in so many ways...
 
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Aesma
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 1:05 pm

It would make sense to have these things fly on autopilot and all communicating with an automatic ATC system to manage the flow. The human pilot would be there to take over just in case.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 2:47 pm

slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
Please don't attack me here, just wondering if United was in their minds heading towards an inevitable filing for bankruptcy eventually.......could it be a good long term move to spend this cash now on something that could pay out in the future?

Even if there is a CARES3 its not gonna be enough time for the demand to come back, at some point United might think it's inevitable and this allows them to invest in something that could pay out alot in the future. Even if there is a CARES3, does anyone really see that being enough at this point? International long haul and business travel isn't coming back anytime soon, there would need to be a CARES 9 to ride them out. AA and UA really look like they are in trouble, i cant see the public wanting to do a CARES3 and 4 to only find them file for bankruptcy anyway. Just a thought


I'm struggling to find a Ch 11 angle unless you mean 'Hurry to spend $ now.' Even in Ch 11, judges are fairly deferential to company requests for spending, although there are important differences between essential ops spending and equity investments. $20 million really isn't enough to worry about (although that doesn't mean a creditor lawyer wouldn't challenge it - it's what they do).

Call this a 'swing for the fences' move for high-fare passengers.

I don't see any utility in the U.S. until they pentuple that 60 mile range. If you're within 100 miles just hire a car and driver if you don't want to drive yourself to a hub airport, and before these things fly in quantity your S-Class or GLS Benz is going to be able (substantially) to drive for you itself, anyway.
 
slider
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 2:53 pm

iamlucky13 wrote:
airzona11 wrote:
Exciting to think about changes to the stale/boring model of today. There will be disruption. The major airlines have the economies of scale and size to play today’s game and if they are smart be part of the evolving airline landscape if it does indeed change.


It would be a change, but not really a disruption to the existing airline industry. The 60 mile routes I know of today are extremely few and far between. More range is needed to disrupt the main market for air travel.

It appears me the hypothetical opportunity here is getting from one side of a metro area to another quickly, or between nearby metro areas, as well as getting to a major airport from the nearby areas. I suspect part of what United is thinking is that if this aircraft did come to fruition, it would be another way to help feed their mainline.


Concur--and that alone is a disruptor, because it would be an innovation to road travel as we know it.

Imagine being able to do a shuttle across large geographic metro areas (NYC, LA, Chicago, Houston, et al) or among nearby cities, NYC-PHL, ORD-MKE, SFO-SJC, etc, etc.... And from a marketing standpoint, tie-in bonus miles on UA as an incentive.

Whether it connects to mainline or not, there's potential value there, and UA taking an equity stake in Archer isn't a bad forward thinking idea.
 
smokeybandit
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:29 pm

So basically, UA said "if this actually works, we're in! But until then, we'll wait and see"
 
MaverickM11
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:34 pm

This sounds like vaporware, or the chicken grease PR flights everyone has done.
 
PHLspecial
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:48 pm

I almost feel like since the big 3 is way to big to fail might as well but our capital money into an investment.

Also what is urban air mobility (UAM)? Like is for getting from city to suburb? Or Suburb to airport? I doubt this is for city to city unless its under 60 miles.
 
Osubuckeyes
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:04 pm

I'd love for United to hire me to light money on fire for them.

This is a ridiculous concept to invest in for a lot of reasons.
 
dtw2hyd
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:19 pm

Interesting move. I suppose there is more money to be made in air taxi business than low margin commercial aviation.
 
DoctorVenkman
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:26 pm

Osubuckeyes wrote:
I'd love for United to hire me to light money on fire for them.

This is a ridiculous concept to invest in for a lot of reasons.


Please expand on those reasons. Quite a few people have said this is ridiculous without giving any sort of indication as to why. I'm guessing UA has a solid business case behind investing in this company, why do you think you have a better understanding of their own finances than they do?
 
DoctorVenkman
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:29 pm

iamlucky13 wrote:
airzona11 wrote:
Exciting to think about changes to the stale/boring model of today. There will be disruption. The major airlines have the economies of scale and size to play today’s game and if they are smart be part of the evolving airline landscape if it does indeed change.


It would be a change, but not really a disruption to the existing airline industry. The 60 mile routes I know of today are extremely few and far between. More range is needed to disrupt the main market for air travel.

It appears me the hypothetical opportunity here is getting from one side of a metro area to another quickly, or between nearby metro areas, as well as getting to a major airport from the nearby areas. I suspect part of what United is thinking is that if this aircraft did come to fruition, it would be another way to help feed their mainline.


UA's bread and butter is SFO, EWR, IAH, LAX... all huge metro areas with tons of traffic. I'm sure there is enough demand from business travelers and wealthy individuals who would be interested in skipping the 1+ hour journey home from those airports.
 
airzona11
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:26 pm

DoctorVenkman wrote:
iamlucky13 wrote:
airzona11 wrote:
Exciting to think about changes to the stale/boring model of today. There will be disruption. The major airlines have the economies of scale and size to play today’s game and if they are smart be part of the evolving airline landscape if it does indeed change.


It would be a change, but not really a disruption to the existing airline industry. The 60 mile routes I know of today are extremely few and far between. More range is needed to disrupt the main market for air travel.

It appears me the hypothetical opportunity here is getting from one side of a metro area to another quickly, or between nearby metro areas, as well as getting to a major airport from the nearby areas. I suspect part of what United is thinking is that if this aircraft did come to fruition, it would be another way to help feed their mainline.


UA's bread and butter is SFO, EWR, IAH, LAX... all huge metro areas with tons of traffic. I'm sure there is enough demand from business travelers and wealthy individuals who would be interested in skipping the 1+ hour journey home from those airports.


And if this is just a quick tag on, future state this doesn't have to be too expensive, and it is much more than just wealthy and business travelers. Marin - SFO - XXX is one of the countless examples. Using Apple as an example, they help fill the Business cabin for United 2x a day (preCovid), why not charge a little more, lock in that business and shuttle to and from Cupertino?
 
Osubuckeyes
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 7:37 pm

DoctorVenkman wrote:
Osubuckeyes wrote:
I'd love for United to hire me to light money on fire for them.

This is a ridiculous concept to invest in for a lot of reasons.


Please expand on those reasons. Quite a few people have said this is ridiculous without giving any sort of indication as to why. I'm guessing UA has a solid business case behind investing in this company, why do you think you have a better understanding of their own finances than they do?


Its a battery powered helicopter. Since they are targeting relatively short range low capacity transportation, I have a hard time believing it would be efficient or cost effective versus self driving personal vehicles from a consumer's perspective. From their press release they want to go 60 miles at 150mph, which is wildly unimpressive and mostly pointless outside of maybe NYC. To add to that color me skeptical that production and support of a new generation of aircraft is somehow more "green" than any of the alternatives now or in the short term future. IMO, the overall $1 billion (if it comes to fruition) would almost certainly be better spent on improving existing infrastructure/transportation links. Hell buying a fleet of self driving Teslas operating as their own United branded limo service would probably be better.

Not to mention Archer will be facing the same production challenges from a chip, battery, and raw materials that all of the auto-manufacturers are currently facing trying to ramp up their EV lines. Only they are 5 years behind in terms of access to the supply chain to hit the market relative to the competitors (stated in this thread) that already have prototypes, not to mention competitors that already have production lines that will emerge from changing market dynamics (other existing helicopter manufacturers pivoting)

Ignoring the pros/cons of Archer's product for the moment, historically the airlines have continued to get themselves into financial trouble by pissing away money on a wide variety of investments. Today (and the past year) they are bleeding historic amounts of money with no certain end date, combined with a strong headwind of possible long term structural changing business dynamics (% of on-site versus remote), and finally the whole concept of dumping $20 mil into this SPAC while laying off/furloughing big chunks of the workforce IMO negates any amount of advertising or goodwill they may have generated.

Its not hard to imagine a world in which United becomes somewhat profitable again, but rolling govt. restrictions, and shifting corporate travel structures prevent them from returning to the pre-covid gravy train. Then $1 billion comes due when these hit production on something only tangentially related to their core business, with the possibility that the target market has a superior alternative available.

I'm all for investing in new ideas, technology and whatnot. However, the amount of great innovation that has come out of silicon valley SPACs and start-ups is mirrored by the amount of s**t companies that have concepts that never see the light of day and become investment money pits for a variety of reasons.
 
ScottB
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 8:23 pm

Someone83 wrote:
I think it is safe to say that this $1.1 billion order can be defined as a "LoI" or similar


I think it's safe to say that it can be defined as an LOL or similar.

DoctorVenkman wrote:
Please expand on those reasons. Quite a few people have said this is ridiculous without giving any sort of indication as to why. I'm guessing UA has a solid business case behind investing in this company, why do you think you have a better understanding of their own finances than they do?


The numbers from the Archer investor presentation are ridiculous. They're predicting 25 daily trips per aircraft which seems incredibly ambitious considering the need to recharge between trips, as well as certain times of day being unattractive and directionality of passenger flows by time of day. Sure, you can get people going to the airport in the early morning, but you're going to have to reposition (along with two charge cycles) to carry the next passenger(s) to the airport.

There are maybe a half dozen markets -- which, admittedly, include most of UA's hubs -- which make sense for this kind of service at certain times of day. But I'm not sure how you get pilots to work for the minimum-wage pay needed to make this kind of service viable, especially given the very high cost of living in most of UA's hub cities. I also wouldn't rely on this kind of service to get me from Manhattan to EWR in poor weather, especially if Mesa is the operator. There's no way there's enough demand for $1 billion worth of air taxis at UA.
 
travaz
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Re: Archer Aviation's $1 Billion order from United Airlines!

Thu Feb 11, 2021 9:04 pm

My question would be under what regulations would these be operated under? Part 91? 121? 135? The involved cities are going to get involved with ordinances and restrictions. I would love to know what the recharge time is on these aircraft. I was in Public transportation and a company tried to sell us an electric bus. You could drive it for 30 minutes and it took 1 hour to recharge. Obviously not suitable for an Urban transportation system. Pilot salaries are going to be in the low double digits per hour to operate these economically. I am one to say " Neve say Never" But..........

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