Archer’s Maker eVTOL prototype makes its first full transition flight

Archer eVTOL Maker

Next-generation aircraft developer Archer passed another milestone in what had already been an eventful year for the company, with its Maker prototype electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft making its first full transition flight this week.

Archer announced the news two days after Maker on Tuesday successfully completed what sector experts consider one of, if not the most critical tests in eVTOL development. As a reminder of just how quickly the Santa Clara-based startup has been progressing toward its objective of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification, meanwhile, Maker made its first vertical-to-forward-thrust flight just under a year after its rose from the ground for the first time ever in a hover trial.

ReadUAM developer Archer unveils its production Midnight air taxi 

That, meanwhile, transpired only three weeks after Maker obtained the FAA’s all-clear for testing with its Special Airworthiness Certificate, setting the pace for what has been Archer’s swift progress in moving the eVTOL toward operational certification. 

Now, after fulfilling pledges that it would start Maker’s full transition flight testing by the end of 2022, Archer officials say they expect to obtain FAA certification in 2024, and commence air taxi service of the production Midnight version of the eVTOL the following year.

“From day one, Archer’s strategy has always been about finding the most efficient path to commercializing eVTOL aircraft,” said Archer CEO Adam Goldstein. “The data and experience we’ve gathered from Maker’s rigorous flight testing program has been invaluable to the development and certification path of Midnight, and lends further confidence to our belief that Archer will be the first company to certify an eVTOL aircraft in the US with the FAA.”

The transition flight tops what Archer executives told DroneDJ earlier this year would be an ambitious 2022. It involved Maker rising off the ground using all its 12 propellers, then pivoting six of those forward to provide horizontal thrust. Once locked into place, that powered Maker into flight of about 105 mph. 

Read moreArcher CEOs discuss 2022 eVTOL air taxi development goals 

Hours of simulation, computer predictions, and other deeply wonky preparations to improve the odds of success notwithstanding, actually making full transition while aloft is considered the do-or-die test for new eVTOL aircraft. The reason: If the design and tech behind the system to attain vertical to horizontal flight fails, it’s essentially back to the drawing board for the entire concept.

Maker pulling that off therefore becomes the biggest reason for Archer to celebrate among its list of eVTOL achievements this year. Those includes announcing the site of its production facilities in Georgia last month, followed by the unveiling of Midnight just two days later. A week before that, the company detailed what it said was the world’s first fully designated future air taxi service route between Lower Manhattan and Newark Airport, in partnership with United Airlines.

Indeed, the full list of Archer’s 2022 news is sufficiently long and impressive that to top it in 2023, the company would have to somehow obtain FAA certification of its eVTOL a year ahead of schedule – something officials are not anticipating for either Maker or Midnight just yet.

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