For some of us, the very idea of an air taxi evokes scenes straight out of science fiction. But in our quest to conquer gravity and reimagine transportation, Archer Aviation has been painstakingly crafting its eVTOL air taxi, “Midnight”. In a major leap toward that vision, the California-based pioneer has prepared its first working model of the air taxi, marking a significant milestone since it unveiled the design last November.
Building the Future: The Archer Aviation’s eVTOL Journey
Since the public announcement of Midnight’s design, Archer Aviation has been meticulously working on this futuristic marvel. The painstakingly assembled parts of the aircraft, including the wing, tail, and fuselage, hint at an imminent entry into the testing phase, according to a report by Interesting Engineering.
On a quarterly earnings call, founder and CEO Adam Goldstein enthusiastically stated, “A substantial part of the wiring, electronics, actuators and other systems have been installed. We plan to embark on a flight test campaign with the aircraft in mid-2023.”
The Midnight is an all-electric eVTOL (Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing) air taxi that can comfortably accommodate five passengers, with one of them being the pilot. It’s not just a people carrier, but also has an impressive payload capacity exceeding 453 kilograms.
The vehicle has been fine-tuned for short-haul point-to-point journeys roughly around 30 kilometers, with an impressive quick-charge feature that tops up in merely 10 minutes between flights.
A Revolution in Commute: Turning Hours into Minutes
Archer Aviation has its sights set on a grand vision: to morph the inter-city travel landscape. The ambitious company aims to replace hour-long car journeys with quick, efficient 10-20 minute electric air taxi rides. This transition is not just about speed but also embraces sustainability, noise reduction, and cost-competitiveness with traditional ground transportation.
Archer has delivered its first model, Midnight, to a flight test facility near Salinas Municipal Airport in California. The aim is to refine the model to meet the rigorous standards of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification testing process scheduled for early 2024. This would be a crucial stepping stone, ideally a year prior to Archer’s commercial launch of the eVTOL.
Onward and Upward: Scaling for the Sky
While Midnight undergoes rigorous in-house testing, Archer is simultaneously planning to build six additional “FAA-compliant” models at its San Jose, California plant. It has set ambitious goals: commercialize the first one by the end of 2023 and commence manned flights early the following year. The company remains confident that the test models will closely resemble the FAA-certification-ready ones.
Chief Operating Officer Tom Muniz stated, “The geometry and flight performance are quite comparable, and the powertrain components are essentially identical to what will be on the certified aircraft.” But the company doesn’t plan to rest on its laurels; it will leverage the test flight data to optimize operations further before taking on the FAA certification process.
A Bright Horizon: Advanced Orders and Backing
Archer Aviation has already secured substantial backing, which adds credibility to their vision and strategy. United Airlines has ordered 200 eVTOLs (with an option for an additional 100), depositing a hefty $10 million and aiming to commence commercial operations as early as 2025. Stellantis, the automotive group that owns Peugeot, Chrysler, Opel, and Citroën, has also stepped in, supporting eVTOL production with a whopping $150 million in financing.
So, hold on to your seatbelts folks. The journey of eVTOL air taxis, led by pioneers like Archer Aviation, could potentially be the next big thing in our transportation ecosystem, transforming our daily commute while caring for our planet.