Thursday, April 18, 2024

Archer enters into a contract to deliver six Midnight eVTOLs to USAF

Electric air taxi developer Archer Aviation has extended its partnership with the United States Department of Defense (DoD) by signing new contracts with the U.S. Air Force with a total value of up to $142 million.

Under the terms of the contract, the Californian startup will deliver up to six of its Midnight aircraft to the Air Force, which means electric air taxis could soon play some role in the nation’s air defenses. The contract also includes pilot training and the development of maintenance and repair operations.

The six air taxis will be used for personnel transport, logistics support, and rescue operations rather than combat missions.

“It’s clear that the development and commercialization of eVTOL technology continues to remain a national priority. We look forward to working closely with the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force to integrate Midnight into their operational fleet with a focus on transport, logistics, and rescue operations,” said Adam Goldstein, Archer’s Founder and CEO, in a statement.

Since 2021, Archer has been working with the DoD on a series of projects through the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX Agility Prime program to assess the transformational potential of the vertical flight market and eVTOL technologies for DoD purposes.

These eVTOL aircraft represent the cusp of the third revolution in aerospace, and these aircraft and their descendants will drive advances in capabilities and efficiency,” said Colonel Tom Meagher, the lead for AFWERX Agility Prime programs. “Our contracts with Archer Aviation provide the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Air Force the opportunity to play a role in ensuring from the onset, and as the technology evolves, that we unlock the many benefits these aircraft have to offer the U.S. military.”

Archer Aviation caught our eye when it first unveiled its five-seat Midnight electric air taxi in November of 2022. The aircraft has vertical takeoff and landing capabilities and is expected to have a payload of over 1,000 pounds.

Midnight has 12 electric propellers and can carry passengers for up to 60 miles (nearly 100 km) at speeds of up to 150 mph (241 km/h) using today’s battery technologies. It can be optimized for back-to-back 20-mile (32 km) trips, with a charge time of about 10 minutes between trips. In addition, it is designed to cruise at 2,000 feet but with a noise output of 45 dBA – 1,000 times quieter than a helicopter. The company is working with the FAA for certification next year.

With a proprietary electric powertrain system and low noise profile, Archer’s aircraft is expected to provide a much safer and quieter alternative to helicopters while being more cost-effective for the U.S. military to transport, operate and maintain in the field.

The announcement comes on the heels of Archer announcing the formation of the company’s Government Services Advisory Board in May, which includes six senior retired leaders from different branches of the U.S. military. According to the company, the goal is to allow Archer to engage more fully with the U.S. government and public safety agencies to explore opportunities to commercialize its eVTOL aircraft.