With almost carbon-free operation, electrical vertical take-off and landing vehicles have the potential to realize new net-zero aviation sectors by 2050

In line with being one of the first major US airlines to pledge a 100% green commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050 without the use of traditional offsets, United Airlines has invested in hydrogen fuel cell engines, sustainable aviation fuel, and most recently, in the conditional purchase of 200 four-seater eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle) to operate “flying taxis”.

Under the terms of the US$15m agreement with Eve Air Mobility Systems, the firm intends to study the development, use and application of Eve’s aircraft and the urban air mobility (UAM) ecosystem. 

eVTOL technology relies on electric motors, providing near carbon-free flights for use as air taxis in urban markets. With a range of 100km, Eve’s eVTOLs are quieter than conventional aircraft by 90% and offer a sustainable commute. United’s investment grants the firm access to not only the intellectual property of Eve eVTOLs but also access to Embraer, an established aircraft manufacturer.

Critically, their relationship includes access to Embraer’s service centers, parts warehouses and field service technicians, paving the way for a proven operational model. Upon entry into service, United could have its entire eVTOL fleet serviced by Eve’s agnostic service and support operations. Moreover, United joins the consortium led by Eve, which will simulate UAM operations in Chicago from 12 September 2022.

A trilateral technology collaboration
United’s move is opportune as 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.

Said Michael Leskinen, President, United Airlines Ventures, which funded the digitalization investments: “United is making history again, by becoming the first major airline to publicly invest in two eVTOL companies. Our agreement with Eve highlights our confidence in the urban air mobility market and serves as another important benchmark toward our goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050—without using traditional offsets. 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.”

Eve co-CEO Andre Stein noted that he looked forward to the partnership, confident that his firm’s UAM agnostic solutions, coupled with the global know-how developed with Embraer, “are the best fit for this initiative, giving United’s customers a quick, economical and sustainable way to get to its hub airports and commute in dense urban environments.”