United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) is pumping another US15 million into the urban air mobility (UAM) sector with a commitment to acquire 200 electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL) air taxis from Eve Air Mobility (Fort Lauderdale International) by 2026, with another 200 on option, according to a joint statement.

The conditional purchase agreement will see the companies collaborate through United's corporate venture fund, United Airlines Ventures, on future projects, including studies on the development, use, and application of Eve's aircraft and the UAM environment.

United Airlines Ventures has invested in diverse companies supporting the airline's goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 without using traditional carbon offsets. This has included investments in eVTOL and electric aircraft, hydrogen fuel cell engines, and sustainable aviation fuel.

Last month , United paid a USD10 million pre-delivery deposit for 100 eVTOL air taxis being developed by California-based startup Archer Aviation (Palo Alto). United is spending USD1 billion - with an option for an additional USD500 million - on up to 200 of Archer Aviation's eVTOL air taxis. They will be operated by Mesa Airlines (YV, Phoenix Sky Harbor), a regional capacity provider.

United has also taken a USD35 million equity stake in US hydrogen-electric engine developer ZeroAvia (Hollister) and has placed an order for 100 of the company's hydrogen-electric engines for regional aircraft.

"United has made early investments in several cutting-edge technologies at all levels of the supply chain, staking out our position as a leader in aviation sustainability and innovation," commented United Airlines Ventures President Michael Leskinen.

He said United's investment in Eve was driven partly by confidence in the potential growth opportunities in the UAM market and Eve's unique relationship with Embraer. "Critically, their relationship includes access to Embraer's service centres, parts warehouses, and field service technicians, paving the way for a reliable operation. 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 September 12, 2022," he said.