This week is bringing fresh momentum for startups looking to deploy electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, Ben writes.

Driving the news: Archer Aviation yesterday announced a $10 million “pre-delivery payment” from United Airlines on United’s 2021 plan to buy 100 of the startup’s aircraft.

  • Meanwhile, Joby Aviation, another California eVTOL startup, announced the expansion of its contract with the U.S. Air Force.
  • “It brings the potential value of the total contract to more than $75 million,” Joby said. The contract also includes work with the Marine Corps, they said.

The big picture: The announcements Wednesday are part of wider support for the sector. For instance, in April Beta Technologies said it closed a $375 million Series B funding round.

Yes, but: Don’t look up yet and expect to see these things dotting the skies, but the tech is advancing toward commercialization.

  • Archer notes that it recently completed its “preliminary design review,” a step along the way toward regulatory compliance.
  • “The Federal Aviation Administration has not yet approved those vehicles to begin ferrying passengers, but the down payment is a sign of support from United that the technology is valid,” Fortune notes.

The intrigue: TechCrunch explains why the military, which is working with multiple eVTOL developers, is so interested in the tech.

Part of it’s for green reasons, but also eVTOLs “promise a lower noise profile — all the better for stealth operations — as well as a lower cost to operate and potentially more flexibility for missions and operations.”

By Axios

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