Hate the traffic between O'Hare Airport and downtown? Want an alternative to taking L?
Starting in 2025, you'll have a new way to get to and from the airport: The electric air taxi. The journey between O'Hare and the Illinois Medical District is expected to take about 10 minutes, according to California-based Archer Aviation, which partners with United Airlines. The company announced the service on Thursday.
Price? An Archer spokesperson said they hoped to make rates competitive with Uber Black, an online ride-hailing service that provides customers with luxury vehicles and the best drivers.
The air taxi is expected to land at Chicago's Vertiport, billed as “Chicago's only full-service downtown heliport”.
The air taxi accommodates four passengers and a pilot. The taxis are being built at Archer's Covington, Georgia facility, which is expected to generate about 650 taxis annually, according to the company.
“Technological innovation thrives here in Chicago, and this venture between Archer and United is another example of this power,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “This exciting new technology will further de-carbonize our means of transportation, taking us one step further in our fight against climate change. I am thrilled that Chicago residents will be the first in the nation to experience this innovative and convenient form of travel.”
Archer had few details Thursday about potentially expanding the air taxi route, but said in a news release that “the next step is to establish ‘branching' routes to connect to surrounding communities.”
“We are excited to add Chicago to our growing list of early launch cities as we continue to strengthen our (Urban Air Mobility) network plans,” Adam Goldstein, founder and CEO of Archer, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with state and city leaders to bring innovative transportation solutions to the city of Chicago and surrounding communities.”
A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said Thursday that the agency is working to certify electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft.
“Safety will determine the certification schedule, but we could see these aircraft in service in 2024 or 2025,” the FAA said in a statement.
Packaged air taxis aren't the first proposed alternative to trains and cars between downtown and O'Hare. In 2018, Elon Musk and then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Musk's company, The Boring Co., had been selected for a project that would see electric vehicles carry passengers through underground tunnels at high speeds. The project was later cancelled.
Contributed: Associated Press