Thursday, April 18, 2024

Archer Aviation unveils its full-size Midnight eVTOL air taxi

Archer Aviation has unveiled the production aircraft, Midnight, a pilot-plus-four-passenger eVTOL aircraft, during its Open House event in Palo Alto, CA. Archer and customers such as United Airlines will use the Midnight to carry passengers around busy urban areas, including to and from airports.

Midnight is the evolution of Archer’s demonstrator eVTOL aircraft, Maker, which has validated its proprietary twelve-tilt-six configuration and key enabling technologies. This means across its 47 feet wingspan are a dozen propellers – six in front, six on the trailing edge. The front six rock five blades are capable of fully tilting forward for cruise flight, while the six stationary propellers on the back are two-bladers, pointing upwards, and they lock into a minimum-drag configuration in horizontal flight.

The electric aircraft is designed to be safe, sustainable, and quiet and, with its expected payload of over 1,000 pounds, can carry four passengers plus a pilot. The glossy black-and-gray eVTOL air taxi is capable of top speeds up to 150 mph (241 km/h) and can fly as far as 100 miles (160 km) on a charge. It is optimized for back-to-back short-distance trips of around 20 miles (32 km), with a charging time of approximately 10 minutes in-between.

Midnight’s seats are constructed out of “flax” fiber, a natural plant that requires very little irrigation and is highly absorbent of CO2. In addition, Archer’s design uses fabric made from recycled contents like plastic bottles. What’s more, the electric motors used in Midnight have significantly less moving parts than those found in a gas turbine or piston engine, allowing it to operate with less maintenance and lower overall risk.

Designed to cruise at approximately 2,000 feet, the design of Midnight is almost 1,000 times quieter than a helicopter, the company claims. In addition, Midnight is all-electric, resulting in zero operating emissions. Archer is committed to sourcing renewable energy whenever possible to power its aircraft.

The company is working to certify Midnight with the FAA in late 2024 and will then use it as part of its urban air mobility (UAM) network, which it plans to launch in 2025.

In August, Archer completed Midnight’s preliminary design review covering all aspects of the aircraft’s specifications and manufacturing requirements, which enabled it to determine that the design is feasible for Type Certification and commercialization.