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Sat, May 13, 2023

Archer Rolls Out First Midnight eVTOL

Ground Testing Imminent

On 28 March 2023, Archer Aviation, the California-based designer of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, announced that its eVTOL, dubbed Midnight, had recently completed a six-week series of tests in RUAG’s Large Subsonic Wind Tunnel in Emmen, Switzerland.

On 11 May, the company set forth it had completed final assembly of the first full-scale Midnight aircraft and shipped the machine from Archer’s Palo Alto facility to its Salinas flight test installation, where a ground-testing campaign is to be presently embarked upon.

Ground-testing is slated to comprise, in part, comprehensive evaluations of Midnight’s airframe, particularly its undercarriage, wheel-brakes, and taxi-dynamics; run-ups of its electric powerplants; and assessments of the mechanisms by which subject powerplants articulate. In the event Midnight’s ground performance conforms to expectations, Archer will commence flight-testing the aircraft in summer 2023.

By dint of vigorous intra-company testing programs, Archer seeks to thoroughly vet Midnight in advance of FAA “for credit” certification testing, which the eVTOL-maker hopes to see underway in early 2024.

In a press release germane to Midnight’s upcoming appraisals, Archer states: Our strategy with this aircraft is to allow Archer to fly many of the same test points that will be needed during piloted … flight testing in order to further validate the aircraft before the FAA witnesses … a customary practice in many aircraft certification programs.”

Component manufacturing is currently underway for Archer’s conforming Midnight aircraft. Archer is targeting the completion of final assembly of its initial conforming Midnight aircraft in Q4 2023. Aircraft conformity inspections, as performed by the FAA, establish a manufacturer’s ability to produce multiple aircraft conforming to a common type design.

Archer founder and CEO Adam Goldstein remarked: “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. 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.”

Midnight is an electrically-powered Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft evolved from an antecedent Archer design known as Maker, from which it inherited its 12-total/tilt-6 rotor configuration.

Of the two eVTOLs, Mr. Goldstein stated: “We’re still using a lot of those same philosophies that we validated with Maker.”

Archer’s strategy for Midnight’s deployment is predicated upon an Urban Air Mobility (UAM) model comprising twenty-mile back-to-back routes conducted in rapid succession. As Midnight’s design targets a one-hundred-mile-per-charge range, numerous such legs could be flown by a single aircraft.

For initial UAM operations, Archer will rely on existing infrastructure, such as the Manhattan heliport, which anchors a route to and from Newark; and Vertiport Chicago, a facility that will presently serve as the hub for an air-taxi route between the Midwestern metropolis’s famed downtown Loop and O’Hare International Airport (ORD).

Mr. Goldstein concluded: “Over time, we will build more infrastructure or work with companies to build more infrastructure.”



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