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Archer completes Midnight’s transition flight

June 13, 2024  By Helicopters Staff


Archer Aviation’s Midnight aircraft completes transition flight on June 8, one of the largest EVTOL aircraft to do so. Archer’s goal is to transform urban travel, replacing 60–90-minute commutes by car with estimated 10–20-minute electric air taxi flights. (Photo: Archer Aviation)

Archer Aviation Inc., a developer of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, on June 8th completed transition flying of its Midnight aircraft at a speed of more than 100 miles per hour. Archer has now achieved transition with two different full-scale eVTOL aircraft.

Archer notes transition flight is well known as a difficult milestone few companies have reached. At ~6,500 lbs, Archer explains Midnight is one of the largest eVTOL aircraft to complete transition, which is critical to being able to carry commercially viable passenger payloads.

A transition flight occurs when the aircraft takes off vertically like a helicopter, accelerates forward, transitions from thrust-borne to wing-borne flight like an airplane with tilt propellers forward before decelerating and landing vertically.

“Transitioning two generations of full-scale eVTOL aircraft in less than two years is another remarkable achievement for Archer’s team,” said Adam Goldstein, Archer’s Founder and CEO. “This shows we continue to successfully execute against our plan to create the most efficient path to market with an aircraft that is designed for certification and to be manufactured efficiently at scale.”

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Midnight is now the 7th full-scale eVTOL aircraft that Archer’s CTO, Tom Muniz, and Chief Engineer, Dr. Geoff Bower, have built and flown in their respective careers. Archer’s first generation full-scale eVTOL aircraft, Maker, achieved transition in November 2022, eleven months after its first flight, and still flies regularly in the company’s flight test program.

Now, seven months after Midnight’s first flight, Archer has now successfully transitioned its production eVTOL aircraft as the company continues toward commercialization.

“Successfully completing the transition from hover to wing-borne flight with a full-scale eVTOL aircraft is a tremendous engineering feat that only a handful of companies in the world have achieved,” said Dr. Geoff Bower, Archer’s Chief Engineer. “Over the seven eVTOL aircraft I’ve built and flown in my career, they have gotten progressively larger as we pursued payloads that made the aircraft platform commercially viable.

“Midnight is believed to be one of the largest eVTOL aircraft ever to achieve transition and one of the first that is purpose built to carry enough passengers to be able to operate a successful air taxi business,” continued Bower. I’m extremely proud of Archer’s team as we have now achieved this milestone with two generations of full-scale aircraft.”

Archer explains Midnight’s flight test program will now continue its progress with plans to fly simulated commercial routes to demonstrate the aircraft’s operational readiness, executing high-rate flight operations, testing additional flight maneuvers that will be used in commercial settings along with continuing to expand its speed and endurance flight envelope.

Archer received its Part 135 and Part 145 certificates from the FAA. Additionally, Archer is one of two companies in the world to have its final airworthiness criteria for an eVTOL aircraft issued by the FAA. Midnight is now in the final “implementation” phase of its Type Certification program with piloted flight testing on track to begin later this year.

 

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