Next-generation electric takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) manufacturer Archer Aviation and United Airways are deepening their partnership through the establishment of a joint advisory committee to prepare efficient, safety-focused maintenance operations for future air taxis and other urban air mobility (UAM) planes.
Archer and United described the creation of the specialized maintenance advisory committee as an important part of the startup’s advancing eVTOL design and development work, and seeking to prepare reliable, smooth-working servicing processes for future air taxis. Archer officials pointed to the enviable safety record of United’s vast passenger airplane fleet over the decades as the reason why the airline represents an ideal partner to help design the maintenance system for its next-generation craft.
Creation of an expert group on future maintenance operations comes at a logical time for Archer. The company began test flights of its Maker eVTOL late last year and – as its co-CEOs told DroneDJ in February – hopes to attain craft certification in 2024, and begin commercial operation of its air taxis the same year. As testing of its prototype progresses, therefore, the time has come for servicing structures and processes to be created for aircraft expected to be shuttling people hither and yon in just two years.
In addition to United’s strong track record in maintenance, meanwhile, its involvement in optimizing Archer’s eVTOL own operation marks a natural deepening of their existing partnership. That began in February 2021 with United’s industry-first, $1 billion order of Archer’s aircraft, and option for an additional $500 million worth. Forming the joint advisory committee logically projects that current relationship farther into the future.
“The formation of this advisory committee further demonstrates Archer’s commitment to building advanced infrastructure to support UAM at scale,” said Adam Goldstein, who became sole CEO of Archer earlier this month. “The committee is set up to leverage United’s experience with industry-leading operating strategies in commercial aviation, a key tenet of our business strategy. We understand that the adoption of UAM is about more than just the certification of our aircraft. United’s operational experience here will be invaluable as we work towards delivering aerial ridesharing at scale.”
Over the longer term, Archer says it’s looking to work with United to create UAM fleet support by exploiting the strengths of their respective logistics concepts and networks in order to create operational efficiencies.
The advisory board will be co-chaired by Archer’s vice president of engineering, Dave Dennison, and United’s Mauricio Angel, managing director of United Express tech-ops strategy and operations. Eight other members will round out the committee – four from United and three from Archer.