Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle company Archer Aviation plans to start air taxi operations in Abu Dhabi in 2026, making the city its first international market outside the United States.
From there, Archer plans to launch an air taxi service across the United Arab Emirates as part of the company’s recently signed memorandum of understanding with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO).
The plans for UAE air taxi development come off the back of the California-based company’s $142 million deal in August to provide up to six of its “Midnight” aircraft to the U.S. Air Force. In May, Archer completed final assembly for Midnight, which can carry four passengers and a pilot and has a range of up to 100 miles.
Archer wants to replace 60- to 90-minute car commutes with 10- to 20-minute eVTOL flights in urban areas. Midnight is designed to perform rapid back-to-back flights with minimal charge time between flights.
In August, Archer received Federal Aviation Administration certification to begin test eVTOL flights in the U.S. Once Archer’s air taxis are fully certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, the UAE will approve them for use in the country, according to Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, director general of UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority.
As part of Archer’s deal with ADIO, the agency will provide Archer with incentives to establish its first international headquarters and manufacturing facilities within Abu Dhabi’s Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industry (SAVI) cluster.
SAVI was recently launched in Masdar City — a sustainable urban community in Abu Dhabi built by Masdar, a subsidiary of Mubadala Investment Company — to attract foreign companies and support innovation and commercialization of smart and autonomous vehicle technologies. Mubadala is one of Archer’s backers.
“Bringing electric aviation to the UAE will help unlock congestion with zero emissions and, in turn, bring millions in foreign direct investment and thousands of jobs to the region over the next decade,” said Badr Al-Olama, acting director general of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, in a statement.
Many of the vehicles to be launched in UAE will be built in partnership with Stellantis — the automaker agreed to mass-produce Archer’s eVTOL’s in January. Archer is also looking to partner with local manufacturers and plans to build a Center of Excellence in Abu Dhabi where the company will focus on building out next-generation aviation technologies.
The Stellantis manufacturing facility in the U.S. will serve as a “blueprint for future Archer manufacturing facilities,” according to Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis.
Alongside its MoU with ADIO, Archer also signed agreements with helicopter charter service Falcon Aviation and aviation maintenance company GAL-AMMROC to, respectively, operate its air taxis and provide maintenance, repair and overhaul service support on the ground.