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Archer Aviation says UAE is ahead in air taxi race

Airfield, Airport, Aircraft Archer Aviation this week became one of only two air taxi companies to receive certification as an airline from the US Federal Aviation Authority Archer Aviation
Archer Aviation last week became one of only two air taxi companies to receive certification as an airline from the US Federal Aviation Authority
  • Certification as an airline approved
  • Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 30 minutes
  • Service could start next year

The UAE is winning the race to launch Archer Aviation’s flying taxis, ahead of the US, India and South Korea.

The Abu Dhabi-backed electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacturer last week became one of only two air taxi companies in the world to receive certification as an airline from the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

Now the company, which is based in California, needs regulatory approval from the FAA for its Midnight passenger vehicle and the go-ahead from aviation authorities in respective countries in order to take to the skies.



The piloted, four-passenger aircraft has a range of about 160km and travels at 250km per hour at a cruising altitude of 2,000 feet.

“Ever since our inception, we have been working on two things. One is certifying the airline, the other is certifying the aircraft. One of those is now done and we’re nearly done with the second piece as well,” Nikhil Goel, Archer’s chief commercial officer, told AGBI.

“Our goal is to have that done so we can enter into service next year.”

Archer is in ongoing discussions with the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority to launch flying taxis within the next 18 months from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, cutting the commuting time between the two cities to just 30 minutes.

The company signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi Investment Office in October last year.

Plans for the UAE also include setting up its international headquarters and a centre of excellence in Abu Dhabi.

Archer has signed deals with the UAE’s Falcon Aviation to jointly develop a vertiport network, and Air Chateau which has agreed a $500 million deal to buy 100 of the Midnight eVTOL aircraft.

An agreement has also been reached with UAE flag carrier Etihad Airways to train pilots for the flying taxis.

“The UAE is the market where we’ve invested heavily because we’ve got a very, very strong support base there,” said Goel.

Air taxi flying Midnight, Archer Aviation's passenger vehicle, can carry four passengers, has a range of about 160km and travels at 250km per hour Archer Aviation
Midnight, Archer Aviation’s passenger vehicle, can carry four passengers, has a range of about 160km and travels at 250km per hour

Archer also counts Abu Dhabi sovereign fund Mubadala as one of its investors and enjoys major partnerships with United Airlines, Boeing and Stellantis.

Last month Korean mobility company, KakaoMobility, signed an agreement to buy up to 50 Midnight eVTOL aircraft from Archer worth up to $250 million.

Earlier this year Archer and United Airlines announced plans to launch the first air taxi route in Chicago between O’Hare International Airport and Vertiport Chicago, North America’s largest vertical aircraft take-off and landing facility.

Trials of its electric air taxi in India are set to begin next year, ahead of a planned commercial launch in 2026, following a partnership with InterGlobe Enterprises, which backs India’s top airline IndiGo.

Goel said that they will be ready to launch in India, UAE, Korea and the United States “as soon as we get regulatory approval”.

“It seems quite positive, certainly from the UAE,” he said. “The right noises are being made about approvals.”

Archer has also been courting the attention of investors in Saudi Arabia. “There’s always opportunities across the Middle East,” said Goel.

A report from the consultancy MarketsandMarkets has predicted that the global flying car market will grow from $74 million in 2022 to $921 million by 2030.

In February New York Stock Exchange-listed company Joby Aviation revealed plans to launch air taxi services in Dubai in 2025, while in March Dubai-based Aviterra signed a deal with Dutch company PAL-V to launch flying cars across the Middle East and Africa.

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