A new electric air taxi service is looking to launch in the Bay Area, with its first taxi-port to be built at a South San Francisco office complex — and they have plans to offer 10-minute rides to San Jose and 15-minute rides to Napa.

It's been a full five years since Uber announced the launch of Uber Air, its planned electric air taxi service that was supposed to launch in Australia in 2023. That never happened, Uber sold off its aviation business in 2020, and now another company has announced plans to offer similar electric air taxi service around the Bay Area.

The company is called Archer Aviation, they're based in Santa Clara, and they are planning to offer air-taxi service in their eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft between five hubs around the Bay: South SF, Oakland, Napa, Livermore, and San Jose. As Uber did before, Archer is saying these air-taxi rides will be priced competitively with ground transportation.

A ride between Oakland and Napa, which takes an hour and 20 minutes by car, would take just 12 minutes on Archer's 12-propeller, quiet aircraft, and rides between South SF and San Jose would take just 10 minutes.

Rendering via Archer Aviation
Photo: Archer Aviation

As the Chronicle reports, the first "vertiport" is being constructed at Kilroy Oyster Point, an office development in South San Francisco with 4 million square feet of office space, a restaurant, an amphitheater, walking trails, and outdoor work spaces. Archer says this vertiport could be completed in 2025.

"We’re thrilled to collaborate with Kilroy on developing infrastructure to support Archer’s air mobility service and laying the foundation for a robust network of landing sites throughout the Bay Area,” says Bryan Bernhard, Archer’s chief growth and infrastructure officer, in a statement. “I applaud Kilroy’s vision as one of the first developers to see our mobility service as a differentiating amenity for their real estate portfolio."

It's not clear whether other vertiports would also start construction soon, or where the air taxis would land in Napa, Oakland, etc. once the service launches.

A map provided by Archer appears to show hubs at regional airports, like the Napa County Airport off Highway 29 in Middleton, and at Oakland International Airport — ahem, San Francisco Bay Area Oakland International Airport.

Map via Archer Aviation

Archer says it is taking great pains to construct extremely safe aircraft, each of which — at least the initial model, the Midnight — can carry four passengers, and come equipped with six battery packs.

"The highest levels of safety are achieved through the fail-safe principle, which is our approach to the design of Midnight meaning it is designed to be able to deliver passengers safely after any single failure," Archer says on its website. "Midnight is designed with high levels of redundancy across all critical systems."

And the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) appears to approve — the agency just gave Archer its Part 135 Air Carrier & Operator Certificate earlier this month. Previously, the FAA granted the company its Part 145 certificate, allowing it to perform specialized aircraft repair services. Still the Midnight Aircraft still needs its Type Certification from the FAA.

"We are honored to receive the Part 135 Air Carrier & Operator Certificate from the FAA, which is another important stepping stone on the way to commencing commercial air taxi operations with our Midnight aircraft," said Adam Goldstein, Founder and CEO of Archer, in a statement. "This milestone reflects our team's unwavering dedication to safety and operational excellence as we stand up one of the world’s first electric air taxi services for communities across the U.S. with a safe, sustainable and low noise transportation solution.”

Archer has also partnered with United Airlines to land its aircraft at all United Airlines hubs around the country. And the company has plans to build pilotless electric aircraft in the coming years.

There is an ongoing race to corner the market on air taxis, in order to solve the problems of ground transportation in urban environments — and to do things like whisk passengers from Manhattan to JFK or Newark airport, or from anywhere in LA to LAX, which can involve an hour or more in traffic and could be a five- or ten-minute air-taxi ride.

In 2021, Boeing sued Archer Aviation, claiming it had poached engineers from its autonomous air-taxi division and stolen design concepts. That lawsuit was settled last year, as the Seattle Times reported, with Boeing becoming an investor in Archer, and Archer pledging not to launch air taxis before 2028.

Industry experts reportedly see Archer's competitor, Santa Cruz-based Joby (which is backed by Toyota), as being ahead of the game in building its eVTOL "rideshare" aircraft, but now Archer is on an accelerated production schedule.