United Airlines has made a $10 million pre-delivery payment to Archer Aviation Inc. for 100 of the company’s initial production eVTOL aircraft. The payment marks a turning point for the eVTOL industry by validating trust in the sector’s leadership and the commercialization of eVTOL aircraft. United is putting down a deposit on 100 Archer production planes that it plans to buy in 2021.

The Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for Archer’s production aircraft was just finished, and the company is now moving on to the next phase of its development and commercialization activities. To make sure the program is on track and the design is mature enough to move on to the next development phase and begin production of long lead time hardware, the PDR is a careful examination of the aircraft design. The PDR outlines every detail of the aircraft’s specs and production needs, which are essential prerequisites for determining whether the design is workable for regulatory compliance and viable for commercialization. United’s choice to put a deposit down on 100 of Archer’s eVTOL planes shows that it wants to be among the first U.S. airline operators to offer eVTOL planes for sale.

The pre-delivery cash contribution carries on the airline’s tradition of steadfast support for its aircraft development. Recently, United and Archer established a Joint eVTOL Advisory Committee, allowing the parties to collaborate more closely on eVTOL operation and maintenance issues. The operations and maintenance leadership from Archer as well as the engineering, materials, and maintenance leadership from United are all represented on the committee.

“I am incredibly proud of the entire Archer team as we reach this milestone in our partnership with United Airlines. To receive a cash deposit is validation of Archer’s achievements to date, not only with flight testing and product development, but also a great signal of confidence in our roadmap to commercialization” said Adam Goldstein, Archer’s CEO. “We’re thankful to United for their continued partnership as we usher in this new era in air travel.”

“This announcement marks a new important phase in our relationship with Archer, and our commitment to EVTOL technology. We are witnessing an inflection point where consumers, businesses, and policymakers are all aligned to prioritize technology that reduces the impact of climate change,” said Michael Leskinen, President of United Airlines Ventures. “United Airlines Ventures has invested in a diverse roster of companies working in support of our goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, without the use of traditional carbon offsets. We believe eVTOLs have the potential to both help achieve carbon-neutral travel and serve as an innovative new tool to change how United customers experience comfort, convenience, and efficiency during their commutes within cities across the globe.”