Archer celebrates the first flight of its Maker eVTOL
Palo Alto startup Archer has started flight tests with its autonomous, two-seat Maker demonstration aircraft, fulfilling a promise it made when it popped out of stealth mode 18 months ago to start demo flights by the end of 2021.
The Archer team made the first hover test on December 16, the milestone coinciding with the 118th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight in 1903. This certainly didn't escape the attention of Archer's head of certification, Eric Wright; Archer says he's "a descendant of Orville and Wilbur," and we're not sure we want to know how that's possible. Wright commemorated the occasion by loading a piece of the Wright Flyer into the Maker before takeoff.
The Maker in question was the prototype unveiled back in June. Archer is likely to launch commercial operations with something larger, a four-seat piloted version, but once autonomous operations are approved by the FAA, it wants to run smaller two-seaters like this. Its claimed specs include a 150-mph (240-km/h) top speed, and a 60-mile (96-km) range before reserve on a charge. Thus it's targeted for cross-town operations more than longer distances.
Now, the company will begin slowly expanding the flight envelope in VTOL hover mode, and eventually, it'll start testing the transitions from VTOL to forward flight and back again; the Maker's six front props are able to tilt forward to enter cruise mode supported by the wing. By 2023, Archer says, we'll be able to see the piloted four-seater that'll be the first into production.
“Everything we’ve accomplished this year, every milestone hit and partnership struck, was all with one goal in mind: developing both an aircraft and a UAM ecosystem that could scale and change the face of intra-city travel,” says Adam Goldstein, Archer co-founder and co-CEO. “With our first hover flight now completed, we’re one major step closer to that goal and have proven that Archer can work at a fast pace without sacrificing safety or quality. Our team stands ready to continue that pace as we work toward launching an aerial ridesharing service in late 2024.”
Source: Archer Aviation
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