Archer, United Airlines Announce O’Hare-To-Chicago Air Taxi Route

Archer and United see the route from O’Hare to Vertiport Chicago as an initial trunk route upon which to base a larger urban air mobility network.

Credit: Archer

Archer Aviation and United Airlines have announced plans to establish an air taxi route between O’Hare International Airport and Vertiport Chicago, an existing heliport in the Illinois Medical District of the city. 

The point-to-point flight is estimated to take about 10 min. in Archer’s Midnight electric-vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) vehicle, an in-development air taxi designed to carry four passengers. Driving between O’Hare and Vertiport Chicago can take anywhere between 22 min. to more than an hour in rush hour traffic. Archer plans to start commercial operations on the route in 2025.

In November, Archer and United announced that their first electric air taxi route would be between Newark Liberty International Airport and New York’s Downtown Manhattan Heliport. 

United Airlines, headquartered in Chicago, is an investor in Archer. In August it made a $10 million predelivery payment on 100 of the 200 electric air taxis it had previously agreed to purchase from the startup. O’Hare International Airport is United Airline’s largest operations hub.

“Once operational, we’re excited to offer our customers a more sustainable, convenient and cost-effective mode of transportation during their commutes to the airport,” says Michael Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures, the company’s venture capital arm.

Archer says plans for the route and eVTOL operations in Chicago were coordinated with the City of Chicago, Chicago Department of Aviation, World Business Chicago, the State of Illinois, Commonwealth Edison and Vertiport Chicago.

As part of the agreement, Commonwealth Edison will work with United and Archer to establish the electric power infrastructure necessary to support eVTOL aircraft operations in and around the Chicago metropolitan area, Archer says. 

For its part, Vertiport Chicago, currently a private heliport about 2 1/2 mi. west of downtown, has been working to reposition itself as a future eVTOL hub. In August, Embraer’s eVTOL subsidiary Eve Mobility announced plans to use the hub to simulate and study urban air mobility (UAM) operations with helicopters from Blade Air Mobility as stand-ins for electric air taxis.

United and Archer see the route from O’Hare to Vertiport Chicago as an initial trunk route upon which to base a larger urban air mobility network.

“Once the trunk routes have been established, the next step will be to build out branch routes to connect to surrounding communities,” Archer says.

Garrett Reim

Based in the Seattle area, Garrett covers the space sector and advanced technologies that are shaping the future of aerospace and defense, including space startups, advanced air mobility and artificial intelligence.