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Wed, Dec 21, 2022

FAA Proposes eVTOL Certification Criteria

Archer Aquiver

On 19 December 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued the airworthiness criteria upon which the type certification of Archer Aviation’s M001 eVTOL will be predicated. The agency has released subject criteria for public comment.

The FAA stated in May 2022 that regulations and certification protocols germane to conventional airplanes and rotorcraft "did not anticipate the need to train pilots to operate powered-lift [vehicles], which take off in helicopter mode, transition into airplane mode for flying, and then transition back to helicopter mode for landing." The agency set forth, therefore, that it would modify its regulatory approach accordingly.

By way of example, the FAA posited Archer’s eVTOL "will be much quieter than conventional helicopter turboshaft engines and rotors. As a result, birds will have fewer cues to the existence of the vehicle due to quiet approach environments.” Ergo, "the FAA proposes a more comprehensive bird strike requirement."

On 29 November 2022, Archer Aviation announced that its Maker eVTOL had made its first full-transition to wing-borne flight. The accomplishment marked a milestone in Maker’s flight-testing program and underscored the sincerity of Archer’s ambition to be the first company to have its eVTOL platform type-certified by the FAA.

Within the context of powered flight, transition refers to the shifting of an aircraft’s lift-generation from one architecture and set of governing physical principles to another—most often from vertical flight, by means of downward-vectored rotor thrust, to forward flight, by means of aerodynamic lift.

Addressing the achievement, Archer Aviation founder and CEO Adam Goldstein remarked: “From day one, Archer’s strategy has always been about finding the most efficient path to commercializing eVTOL aircraft. 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.”

In August 2022, United Airlines paid Archer a $10-million deposit for one-hundred of the San Jose, California-based company’s eVTOL air-taxis. United CEO Scott Kirby couched the investment as an expression of the air-carrier’s commitment to decarbonizing air travel.

“By working with Archer, United is showing the aviation industry that now is the time to embrace cleaner, more efficient modes of transportation,” Kirby hyperbolized. “With the right technology, we can curb the impact aircraft have on the planet, but we have to identify the next generation of companies who will make this a reality early and find ways to help them get off the ground.”

FMI: www.archer.com

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