Archer's first Midnight eVTOL is built and ready to fly
Six months after revealing its production eVTOL air taxi design, Archer Aviation has shown off its first functional Midnight aircraft, with flight tests set to begin in the coming months – and manufacturing has already begun on a conforming prototype.
The Midnight is one of a new generation of futuristic electric air taxis designed to fly you from rooftop to heliport across town as quickly as a helicopter – but much quieter, much cheaper and with zero emissions. It'll carry four passengers and a pilot over distances up to 100 miles, with rapid battery charging at the "vertiports" where it lands.
The prototype revealed today is designed for in-house flight testing; it's not the aircraft Archer will be using through the FAA certification process. That'll be the conforming prototype – the final design that'll go under the regulator's microscope, and eventually into production.
Components are already being manufactured for the conforming prototype, says Archer. It aims to get the thing fully built by the end of this year, and start piloted flight testing in early 2024.
The non-conforming prototype revealed today, then, is all about getting this design into the air, ironing out any unforeseen wrinkles, flying it across a broad range of conditions and maneuvers, and making any last-minute changes before moving into the expensive and drawn-out certification process. It's an acceleration and risk reduction exercise.
As such, Archer will start ground tests soon, with the intention of a first flight this summer, and an unmanned flight test program designed to mimic the rigors the FAA will put the conforming prototype through.
“Today we announced our exciting progress that the final assembly of our first Midnight aircraft is now complete and it is preparing for its flight test program,” said Adam Goldstein, Archer’s Founder and CEO. “This aircraft will accelerate and reduce risk on our certification program paving the way for our team to focus on building and conducting piloted operations with conforming aircraft to support the goal of entering into service in 2025.”
The current version of the AAM Reality Index lists Archer as the third-closest eVTOL company to getting a product onto the market at mass scale behind Joby Aviation and Volocopter, as well as the third-best funded, and judges the company's goal of getting these futuristic aircraft into service by 2025 as "likely," with a 50-75% chance of getting it done.
There's a super-quick b-roll video below, which gives you a brief look at the Midnight's blinged-out tilting propeller mechanisms.
Source: Archer Aviation