Flying Taxis Coming to Korea; $250M Deal

The service would start in Seoul, where commuters can spend 90 minutes a day stuck in traffic

Chuck Martin, Editorial Director AI & IoT

May 30, 2024

5 Min Read
Archer Aviation's Midnight eVTOL flying over Seoul Korea
Archer Aviation

Flying taxi company Archer Aviation has signed a deal with KakaoMobility in Korea for the planned purchase of up to 50 of the Archer Midnight eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicles at a value of $250 million.

KakaoMobility would own and operate the electric aerial vehicles (EAV) in Korea, with flying taxi flights offered to the 30 million registered users on the Kakao T mobile app starting in 2026. 

The service would start in Seoul, where commuters can spend 90 minutes a day stuck in traffic.

KakaoMobility is expected to pay $7 million to Archer this year as the first installment, with the second payment in early 2025.

KakaoMobilit and consortium partners LG UPlus Corp. and GS E and C plan to use Archer to conduct public demonstration flights with eVTOL vehicles in Korea later this year.

Archer and KakaoMobility also agreed to partner to participate in the K-UAM Grand Challenge hosted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The challenge is a public-private demonstration of EAVs to create public support.

The Korean government intends to commercialize urban air mobility (UAM) in the country by the mid-2020s.

“Archer is expanding its international launch strategy to South Korea through this landmark partnership between Archer Aviation and KakaoMobility,” said Archer chief commercial officer Nikhil Goel. “Together, we are committed to revolutionizing transportation with Archer’s eVTOL aircraft, ushering in a future of cleaner, faster and more efficient travel between and within Korean cities.”

Related:Flying Taxi Company Gets Final Airworthiness Criteria From FAA

The collaboration aims to build infrastructure, including vertiports and air traffic management systems in Korea.

Archer recently received its final airworthiness criteria from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

This final criterion provides the path for the Archer EAV to achieve Type Certification, which is needed for the Archer Midnight to be used as a commercial craft.

Archer is constructing three piloted, conforming flying vehicles, one of which is to be used for piloted flight testing later this year and likely for credit flight testing with the FAA.

Air taxi company Joby Aero also recently received special class airworthiness criteria. 

Archer recently announced a partnership with Etihad Training to recruit and train pilots to fly its Midnight EAV in Abu Dhabi and across the United Arab Emirates.

Archer featured Midnight for the first time in Saudi Arabia, following a recent showcasing of the EAV at the DriftX mobility expo in Abu Dhabi.

Archer is in the process of establishing UAM operations across the UAE with the help of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, Falcon Aviation and Air Chateau.

Related:Flying Taxi Company Going Big in Abu Dhabi

Etihad Aviation Training trains pilots for numerous global airlines and plans to work with Archer to recruit and train pilots for the Archer eVTOL.

Archer plans to provide a Midnight flight simulator for the Etihad training center in Abu Dhabi.

Earlier this year, Archer and the Abu Dhabi Investment Office agreed to accelerate commercial air taxi operations in the UAE, scheduled to start next year.

The EAV company has received the backing of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office in terms of funding in the hundreds of millions of dollars and the building of vertiports and charging infrastructure to support the flying taxi service.

That agreement was announced at the DriftX mobility event at the Yas Marina Circuit, a sold-out event featuring outdoor demonstrations of numerous flying vehicles and indoor exhibitions of pilotless and piloted vehicles of all types.

The joint agreement includes building vertiport and local manufacturing of the Midnight.

Archer’s international headquarters and Center of Excellence are being established in Abu Dhabi.

Last year Archer raised $215 million from Stellantis, Boeing, United Airlines and ARK Investment Management, with total funding at that time at $1.1 billion.

Related:Flying Taxi Company Signs Deal to Train Pilots for UAE Operations

Archer’s goal is to replace 60- to 90-minute car trips with 10- to 20-minute flights. The Midnight can carry four passengers and a pilot and is aimed at trips of 20 to 50 miles, with 10 minutes of battery charging time between flights.

For mass production of the EAVs, a high-volume manufacturing facility is being built in Georgia, expected to ultimately be able to produce up to 650 flying vehicles a year.

Archer recently signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA for the testing of its battery cell and system design, with plans to share the results to aid the advanced air mobility (AAM) market.

The company also has signed a deal with Air Chateau International for the private aviation operator to purchase the EAV to be operated in the UAE.

Archer intends to build an engineering center of excellence to support the growing advanced air mobility industry in the UAE and across the Middle East.

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About the Author(s)

Chuck Martin

Editorial Director AI & IoT

Chuck Martin, author of "Flying Vehicles," New York Times Business Bestselling author and futurist, is Editorial Director at Informa Tech, home of AI Business, IoT World Today and Enter Quantum. Martin has been a leader in emerging digital technologies for more than two decades. He is considered one of the foremost emerging technology experts in the world and his latest book title "Flying Vehicles" (The Emergence of Personal Air Travel, Flying Cars, and Air Taxis) followed "Digital Transformation 3.0" (The New Business-to-Consumer Connections of The Internet of Things).  He hosts a worldwide podcast titled “The Voices of the Internet of Things with Chuck Martin,” where he converses with top executives from the companies driving the adoption of emerging technology.

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