Archer Aviation is one step closer to getting its electric air taxi certified to ferry people across cities at speeds that are currently impossible on the ground.
The background: Archer’s air taxi is an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle. It doesn’t need a runway or airport, and because it’s battery powered, it’s quieter and more climate friendly than a helicopter.
Dozens of companies are developing eVTOLs, mainly with the goal of using them like aerial Ubers — customers could summon an electric air taxi to the top of a building or parking garage, and then fly above traffic to their destination.
After proving its tech with Maker, a full-scale prototype eVTOL, Archer unveiled its first production model, Midnight, in 2022. The aircraft has room for four passengers and a pilot, and Archer’s goal is to have it in commercial service by next year, 2025.
“The vehicle will fly 150 miles per hour and can fly up to a hundred miles, but we will really only be targeting the 20 to 30 mile type of trips, but rapid back-to-back trips,” Adam Goldstein, Archer’s founder and CEO, told Freethink.
What’s new? Archer has now announced that Midnight has completed phase 1 of its flight test program, which included data collection missions and required the electric air taxi to demonstrate that it could perform increasingly complex maneuvers in the air.
Midnight needed just three months to complete this testing, which Archer says is “significantly faster” than the time it took Maker to finish it.
“Midnight is progressing efficiently through our flight test program,” said Goldstein. “Over the last four years of flight testing, our team has been able to gather a tremendous amount of data and learnings that enable us to advance Midnight rapidly towards certification.”
Looking ahead: Archer’s electric air taxi will now move on to phase 2 of flight testing, which will focus on flying at increasingly faster speeds and transitioning between taking-off, cruising, and landing. Phase 3 will test Midnight on flying simulated commercial routes.
Archer’s goal is to begin piloted flight testing “for credit” with the FAA before the end of 2024. Once certified, the company can start delivering Midnights to United Airlines, which plans to use the eVTOLs to provide local transportation to and from airports in Chicago and New York, cutting trips that would take an hour (or even longer) by car down to as few as 10 minutes.
“Our team’s focus on safety and relentless execution has gotten us to where we are today and is what will allow us to achieve what no other company in the world has done to date — bring electric air taxis to cities across the US and the globe,” said Goldstein.
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