Archer’s Midnight eVTOL Hits 100mph in Transition Flight: Could This Cut NYC Commutes to 10 Minutes?

June 21, 2024
2 mins read
Archer's Midnight aircraft. (Photo: Archer )
Archer's Midnight aircraft. (Photo: Archer )

On June 8th, Archer Aviation Inc. (NYSE) announced that the Midnight eVTOL aircraft successfully completed its first transition flight at a speed of 100+ mph, marking a milestone in the vehicle’s development. 

“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.

A transition flight, in simple terms, 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. Archer has now achieved transition with two different full-scale eVTOL aircraft in less than 2 years. The first full-scale aircraft, Maker, successfully achieved transition in November 2022 and still flies regularly in the company’s flight test program. 

“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,” explained Dr. Geoff Bower. Midnight is believed to be one of the largest eVTOLs (Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing aircraft; also referred to as ‘air taxis’ or ‘flying taxis’), to complete transition, which is critical for carrying commercially viable passenger payloads. Outside of testing, eVTOLs haven’t taken to the skies in the United States; however, Archer continues to make certification progress. The company has now received its Part 135 and Part 145 certificates from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). Additionally, Archer is one of two companies in the world to have its final airworthiness criteria for an eVTOL aircraft issued by the FAA.

Today, eVTOLs are expected to be used for commercial as well as personal use. Electrification is making aircraft safer and less costly. Dozens of companies like Joby and Eve Air Mobility are working to get their eVTOLs in the sky. Investment bank Morgan Stanley predicts that the global eVTOL/urban air mobility market will be worth $1 trillion by 2040 and $9 trillion by 2050. McKinsey, a management consultancy, projects that UAM firms worldwide will need to hire and train 60,000 eVTOL pilots by 2028.

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According to the official press release, Archer is aiming to replace 60–90-minute commutes by car with estimated 10–20-minute electric air taxi flights that are safe, sustainable, low noise, and cost-competitive with ground transportation. Midnight is a piloted, four-passenger aircraft designed to perform rapid back-to-back flights with minimal charge time between flights.

Archer Midnight’s phase 2 is looking to increase speed and transitioning between taking off, cruising, and landing. Phase 3 will test Midnight on flying simulated commercial routes. Archer’s goal is to begin piloted flight testing “for credit” with the FAA before the end of 2024. Once certified, the company can start delivering Midnights to United Airlines, which plans to use the eVTOLs to provide local transportation to and from airports in Chicago and New York, cutting trips that would take an hour (or even longer) by car down to as few as 10 minutes.

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