US-based Archer Aviation is soon to unveil its Midnight eVTOL, boldly predicting it will be making 650 in its 3rd year of production.
Californian-based eVTOL innovator Archer Aviation forecasts it will produce about 250 battery-electric air taxis in 2025. After that, it tells it will ramp up production, but 1st, it requires getting the aircraft certified to fly.
This must be particularly encouraging news for United Airlines, (United) which in August put down a $10 million deposit on hundred of Archer Aviation’s (Archer) urban air mobility (UAM) aircraft. United Airlines, had already committed to buying the hundred aircraft in 2021, with an estimated order value of $1 billion.
The deal also included buy options worth an additional $500 million, and the agreement means that United could have a fleet of up to 200 of Archer’s flying taxis. While pinning down a delivery date in this market is akin to the ‘proverbial tail on the donkey,’ 2024 was mentioned at the time.
Federal Aviation Administration
It is also very rare for UAM company leaders to confidently and unambiguously detail their plans. Archer CEO Adam Goldstein had no such reservations in an interview with Reuters published yesterday.
“In our first year, we will build 250 aircraft, our second year will build 500 aircraft, our third year will build 650 aircraft, and then we scale it up to around 2,000 aircraft per year.”
Archer Aviation announced
A couple of weeks back, Archer declared it would unveil Midnight, its 1st production VTOL aircraft, at an Open House event on November 16th. Besides revealing Midnight, Archer said it would provide details on the aircraft’s specifications, capabilities, and progress toward Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification. On certification, Archer Aviation has told it aims to have approval by the end of 2024, although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has yet to set the certification parameters.
Those fortunate enough to be at the Open House can view a test flight of Archer’s full-scale technology demonstrator at the company’s flight test facility. In August, Archer declared it had completed Midnight’s Preliminary Design Review (PDR), a step that validates the proposed design is expected to meet the functional and performance requirements and has sufficient maturity to proceed to the Critical Design Review (CDR).
Midnight is a four-passenger plus pilot vehicle with an expected payload of 1,000+ pounds (454 kilograms). It has a charging turnaround time of about 10 minutes to enable the types of flights Archer Aviation targets. The operating model envisages flights in almost the 20-mile (32 kilometers) range, fitting in with the ten-minute recharges and targeted at cross-city car trips that typically take an hour or more.
Archer’s message has consistently been focused on operating its vehicles to overcome urban congestion, even stating its pricing will be comparable to an Uber Black service. Goldstein said: “From day one, Archer’s plan has been to build a commercially viable business that will revolutionize intra-city travel. We’ve made phenomenal progress in the growth of our eVTOL aircraft technology, and I am excited to share the aircraft that will deliver on that vision as part of our Open House event.”
While Midnight may be new, Archer has been developing its prototype since its unveiling in June 2021. Maker completed its 1st hover test flight in December and, after various modifications, returned to flight testing earlier this year.
In July, Archer said Maker was moving into the third phase of flight testing, which will evaluate the aircraft’s performance at increasing forward speeds. Based on the current rate of progress, Archer Aviation stated it expected the prototype to move to full transition flight by the end of this year.
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