Archer Aviation, a Santa Clara-based company, has finished assembling its first air taxi, the Midnight. This electric aircraft is also known as eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) for its vertical take-off and landing capabilities. Eventually, eVTOLs are expected to usher in a new era of air transportation in the coming years. The Midnight prototype will undergo a series of tests on the ground and in the air at Archer’s facility in Salinas, California.
The Midnight eVTOL is optimized for short-distance flights, typically between city centers and airports, with a maximum range of 100 miles. Due to its quick charging time of 12 minutes in between flights, it can fly back-to-back routes of 20 miles. The aircraft will boast a cruising speed of 150 mph at an altitude of around 2,000 feet.
Initially, the Midnight will be able to carry four passengers and a pilot, but the company plans to introduce autonomous operation in the future. It can manage a payload capacity of 1,000 pounds and is powered by six independent battery packs. The aircraft features 12 propellers and 12 electric motors.
Archer Aviation has received a significant order for the Midnight from United Airlines, worth $1 billion. United Airlines plans to use the eVTOLs for an air taxi service in Chicago starting in 2025.
However, the dawn of eVTOLs could face delays due to regulatory changes by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA recently changed the certification category for eVTOLs, which means new regulations need to be developed. This could impact the design, production, and certification process for companies like Archer Aviation.
Despite the regulatory challenges, Archer remains confident in meeting its timeline. The company aims to conduct flight testing for FAA certification in 2024, with the goal of entering into commercial service in 2025. The CEO of Archer Aviation, Adam Goldstein, expects the FAA to complete the necessary regulations on time.
Overall, Archer Aviation’s Midnight eVTOL is a promising contender in the emerging market of electric air taxis. With its advanced design, optimized performance, and strategic partnerships, it aims to transform inter-city travel with safe, sustainable, and cost-competitive flights.