Less than three weeks after revealing it had received the requisite Special Airworthiness Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct testing of its Maker electronic vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, Archer Aviation successfully completed the plane’s first hover flight.
Palo Alto-based Archer announced Maker’s maiden outing on Monday. Oddly, that was a full four days after it said the flight was conducted, but barely three weeks after it revealed it had obtained the FAA certification necessary to begin aerial tests. At that time, officials had declared their objective of staging the eVTOL craft’s initial hover flight before the end of year, with last week’s operation fulfilling that pledge. The company now plans to press ahead with other trials throughout 2022 with the aim of the Maker commencing commercial service in 2024.
In its announcement, Archer said the eVTOL plane took the hover test on the morning of December 16, during which the company checked out its end-to-end flight software and control system.
Archer officials noted Maker’s initial lift-off was made the same week as the 118th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ pioneering 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk, NC. To mark that, the company arranged for Eric Wright – a descendent of the history-changing siblings, who also works as Archer’s head of certification – to place a piece of the original Wright Flyer in the eVTOL for its inaugural outing.
This year has been eventful for Archer, featuring the continued conceptual development of its planned passenger air taxi and recent unveiling of its flesh-and-rotor prototype. But it also involved legal problems and setbacks in its financial planning that the company was forced to juggle. Yet throughout all that, Archer officials say the company remained focused on what it considered the vital objective of obtaining certification and conducting the eVTOL’s first hover flight by the end of 2021.
“Everything we’ve accomplished this year, every milestone hit and partnership struck, was all with one goal in mind: developing both an aircraft and (urban air mobility) ecosystem that could scale and change the face of intra-city travel,” said Adam Goldstein, Archer co-founder and co-CEO. “With our first hover flight now completed, we’re one major step closer to that goal and have proven that Archer can work at a fast pace without sacrificing safety or quality. Our team stands ready to continue that pace as we work toward launching an aerial ridesharing service in late 2024.”
Archer said last week’s untethered hover run included verification of the control and propulsion systems. It also tested Maker’s motors at full power, and submitted them to operational-level stress to ensure all systems were prepared for the rigors of advanced trials. With the end of 2021 now just ahead, company executives say the eVTOL plane’s successful hover flight caps a remarkable year.
“The past six months have been an incredible journey, from unveiling Maker to watching it take its first flight,” said Brett Adcock, Archer co-founder and co-CEO. “It’s been humbling to build a leading eVTOL company and educate the public on clean transportation alternatives. Today is a milestone for both Archer and the future of travel. I’m extremely proud of this exceptional team.”
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