Archer cofounder resigns as its eVTOL air taxi pursues certification

Archer eVTOL air taxi

In a surprise move, Archer cofounder Brett Adcock has left the electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) plane developer, even as its Maker air taxi prototype continues quickly advancing toward certification objectives.

Adcock announced his decision to leave the company on Twitter, calling it “bittersweet” and saying he’ll be moving on to a new project aiming to “make a positive contribution to humanity.” Although some reports quote an initial tweet mentioning diverging visions with other Archer board members on where to steer the eVTOL startup, the current text sticks to recounting his efforts and successes at the head of the company.

Significantly, however, the move comes less than three weeks after Adcock relinquished his co-CEO position, leaving the full post to partner Adam Goldstein.

His exit represents a rare incidence of turbulence for Archer, which over the past half year or so has seen its efforts to launch air taxi services with its Maker eVTOL craft advance rapidly. 

Last December the craft received its air worthiness certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. Within successive days after that, Archer unveiled its prototype of the plane, and staged its first hover test flight. The company has continued successfully trialing the current two-seat model, and is refining plans to use that as basis for a four-seat version it hopes to have certified and put into operation in 2024.

Read moreAs pledged, Archer’s Maker eVTOL makes first hover flight before 2022

After going public with an $857 million Wall Street stock flotation last September, Archer got another financial boost in February with backer United Airlines placing a $1 billion order for 200 eVTOL planes. Just last month the two companies put plans into place looking to create maintenance and repair structures for next-generation vehicles, relying on United’s well-established operation in traditional airline activity.

Prior to that, Archer’s morale got a lift from federal officials formally ending potential government participation in an economic espionage court case rival Wisk is waging on allegations of aircraft design theft. Everything appeared to be going their way when Adcock and Goldstein told DroneDJ in February about their objectives for the months ahead.

Read moreArcher CEOs discuss 2022 eVTOL air taxi development goals

As this week’s exit indicates, however, tensions were building out of sight. Looking back, Adcock relinquishing the co-CEO title appears to have been a first step toward his complete departure. The current wording of his decision, meanwhile, invites speculation that Adcock may have felt Archer, and its pace moving its eVTOL craft toward certification and operation under United’s wing, may have been pushing too fast for its own long-term good.

For its part, Archer has largely refrained from commenting on Adcock’s exit, but did provide DroneDJ with the following comment.

We are disappointed that Brett used social media to announce his decision to resign from Archer’s Board of Directors instead of coordinating with the company. Archer is one of the most well-capitalized eVTOL companies with a team of world-class engineering and design talent. Under the leadership of CEO Adam Goldstein and his experienced management team, Archer remains committed to its vision of bringing urban air mobility to market to transform the way people move around congested cities in a safe, sustainable, and cost-competitive manner.

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