Developer of next generation electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, Archer Aviation, says testing of its Maker air taxi prototype is progressing so well it believes it can start full transition trial flights by the end of this year.
The news from the company is another indication of how rapidly it is advancing the prototype through tests, and nearing finalization of the craft it will use for certification, production, and launch into service. Archer only received the Federal Aviation Administration’s Special Airworthiness Certificate for Maker in early December, and within three weeks had conducted the first hover flight of its eVTOL air taxi. It has continued what it says have been increasingly ambitious trial runs towards what it now believes will be full vertical-to-horizontal operation before 2022 is out.
“The advancements we are making in our flight test campaign are nothing short of remarkable,” said Archer CEO Adam Goldstein. “I wake up every day inspired by our team.”
Since Maker’s first outing in December, Archer teams have been developing and testing the systems needed make transition of the eVTOL air taxi as efficiently as possible. Central to that is experimentation of various hover scenarios that help simulate how the craft’s Tilt Propeller System will function when in use.
To that end, company engineers will continue expanding the prototype’s flight envelope with increasing climb and descent rates and airspeeds, and expand trial frequency to several times per week to meet their objective of full transition within the next six months.
Geoff Bower, Archer’s chief engineer, says the momentum attained in trials thus far should put that goal within the company’s reach.
“Our recent test flights with Maker have shown impressive results,” said Bower. “The rigorous testing our team has completed over the past several months has helped not only validate our design, but also furthers our mission to certify our production aircraft.”
Archer will be ooking to attain FAA certification of its finalized eVTOL in 2024, when it also plans to put that air taxi into service. To facilitate that, the company has said it will break ground this year on a new dedicated manufacturing facility to reach its objective of producing 2,300 aircraft annually.
It is also setting the table for activities that will arise once the aircraft is in operation. In April, Archer created a committee with partner and financial baker United Airlines to establish a maintenance and repair platform for Maker clients operating eVTOL air taxi businesses. The move looks to draw on United’s experience on its own passenger plans and leverage its supply and delivery networks to benefit both companies.