California electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developer Archer Aviation says it has completed the second round of testing of its Maker air taxi prototype, and will now begin the third and final series of trials leading to full transition flight.
Archer made the announcement after its eVTOL air taxi successfully finished the last of its critical azimuth test flights, which had constituted the second phase of trials the company had been putting Maker through. Those piloted the aircraft through a series of movements forward, backward, and to both sides at various speeds to simulate its response to wind while in operation. As part of that, the Maker prototype was taken up to velocities of 15 knots, with all its configuration and flight control systems checking out well.
With that battery of tests behind them, Archer’s technical team will now commence the final phase of the eVTOL’s test flights, which will increasingly augment the velocity the air taxi is flown, and culminate with full transition operation.
Clearing that milestone is another step in the company’s relatively speedy drive to prepare the aircraft for certification, production, and a launch targeted for 2024.
Archer only received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to begin testing its Maker eVTOL in early December, and moved to put the air taxi through its first hover trial by the end of that month.
More advanced assessment flights have continued since – of late at the rate of about one per day – and along the way the company added its new tilt propeller system to the plane. With the third and final phase of eVTOL testing ready to begin, Archer says it should be able to conduct full transition flights of the Maker air taxi by year’s end, putting it on course for the desired 2024 FAA certification.
“Every flight test we conduct provides us with a treasure trove of data, validating our design and rapidly propelling us towards our vision for eVTOL air travel,” said Archer CEO Adam Goldstein. “This latest milestone is truly exciting and not only reinforces the capabilities of our aircraft design, but of our highly innovative team. We’re excited to share more updates as we move the campaign even further forward in the coming months.”
The Santa Clara-based company plans to put its craft into operation rapidly after its eventual certification. To prepare for that, Archer will break ground this year on a new dedicated manufacturing facility to reach its objective of producing 2,300 aircraft annually.