Archer Aviation is forming an eVTOL aircraft advisory committee with its investor and customer United Airlines. The group, announced on April 27, will provide Archer with guidance on maintenance and operational arrangements for the four-passenger eVTOL vehicle that the start-up intends to bring into commercial service in 2024.
In February 2021, United Airlines signed an agreement valued at an initial $1 billion to purchase up to 200 of Archer’s as-yet-unnamed eVTOL design. These are expected to be operated by a regional affiliate of the carrier, Mesa Airlines, to transport passengers to and from major hub airports. United also supported a $600 million common stock PIPE (public investment in private equity) commitment that backed Archer’s September 2021 business combination with special purpose acquisition company Atlas Crest and the resulting initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.
The new advisory committee is chaired by Mauricio Angel, managing director for United Express TechOps strategy and operations, and Archer’s vice president of engineering, Dave Dennison. It will also include eight other executives from both companies: Archer’s CEO Adam Goldstein, COO Tom Muniz, and maintainability lead Armando Chieffi; and United’s director of maintenance programs Jason Onorati, senior manager of maintenance programs Robert Bernard, director of materials Brian Johnson, senior engines and engineering manager Monal Merchant, and senior manager for United Airlines Ventures Edward Espiritu.
“At United, we’re proud to be expanding our collaboration with Archer with an advisory committee designed to focus on key operational strategies and electric aircraft performance needed to achieve our shared goal of sustainable urban air mobility, while addressing the scale and sophistication needed to operate successfully and, most importantly, delivering the high-quality user experience our customers require,” commented Michael Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures. “Assembling this group of industry-leading talent, and harnessing the valuable insights it yields, will be a vital step in enabling consumer adoption of eVTOL [aircraft].”
According to Archer, its long-term goal is to work with United to establish an urban air mobility fleet support plan that leverages existing logistics processes and networks. This would seem to imply that it views United’s plans to start deploying eVTOL aircraft in its network as a potential blueprint for other commercial operations.
“We understand that the adoption of urban air mobility is about more than just certification of our aircraft,” said Goldstein. “United’s operational experience here will be invaluable as we work towards delivering aerial ridesharing at scale.”