Urban air mobility (UAM) company Archer on Thursday is unveiling its production Midnight air taxi during an open house event at the company’s test facilities in Palo Alto, California, where the craft is being prepared for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification.
Inspired by Archer’s UAM prototype, Maker, Midnight will operate using the company’s proprietary 12-tilt-six configuration for air taxi service, flying up to four passengers and a pilot with maximum payloads of 1,000 lb. During its unveiling, company officials will introduce the craft designed for back-to-back flights of around 20 miles before needing a 10-minute battery recharge.
Those distances roughly correspond to the initial air taxi routes Archer is planning to operate between Lower Manhattan to Newark Airport as part of client and investor United Airline’s UAM shuttle services for its passengers.
Although the Santa Clara-based company has previously cited its certification and air taxi launch target for 2024, spreading awareness across the UAM sector that still developing FAA guidelines may only be released in mid- to late 2024 has apparently led Archer to update its planned rollout of commercial activity to 2025. Rival Joby made a similar revision earlier this month, citing both uncertainty about final regulation and internal operational considerations as the reasons.
The extra few months notwithstanding, Archer CEO Adam Goldstein says he expected the company to lead the drive to initiate electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) passenger transportation.
“From day one Archer’s strategy has always been about finding the most efficient path to commercializing eVTOL aircraft,” Goldstein said. “We believe our strategy and team’s ability to execute on it has allowed us to establish our leadership position in the market, and is why we are confident we will be the first company to certify an eVTOL aircraft in the US with the FAA.”
Archer has been driving the long, multi-phased certification process hard – and making rapid progress – since receiving the FAA go-ahead late last year.
Most recently, the company completed Midnight’s preliminary design review, covering all aspects of the aircraft’s specifications and manufacturing requirements. That cleared the way for advanced work toward eventual Type Certification and commercialization. Awaiting that, Archer earlier this week announced it will locate its production facilities in Covington, Georgia, just outside Atlanta.
Relying on the UAM plane’s electric propulsion technology and cutting-edge aircraft systems, Archer expects its air taxi to conduct full-transition test flights before the end of the year. That tech, along with high redundancy and other enhancements make Midnight what Archer calls a safe, low-noise, and sustainable aircraft for pioneering approaching eVTOL services.
“We continue the push towards commercialization, with the vast majority of our resources focused on completing the development and certification of Midnight, building out our manufacturing and supply chain capabilities, and hardening our go-to-market plans,” said Mark Mesler, Archer’s chief financial officer.