California-based Archer debuted a full-scale, two-seat, autonomous prototype of its Maker eVTOL aircraft in a COVID-safe in-person event held at the Hawthorne Airport in California and via global Livestream. The electric flying taxi will begin ground tests and flight tests later this year, with air taxi services slated to begin in Los Angeles and Miami in 2024.
Archer’s goal is to move people throughout the world’s cities in a quick, safe, sustainable, and cost-effective manner.
The Maker air taxi has a fairly conventional airplane shape with a V-tail and a large main overhead wing. While the two-seater design has a 40-foot wingspan and weighs about 3,300 pounds (1,508 kg), the larger plane is likely to weigh more. The demonstrator has six propulsion pods, each with a two-blade rear lift rotor and a five-blade front rotor that can tilt forward in horizontal flight.
The two-passenger Maker is powered by six independent battery packs with a capacity totaling 75 kWh and can carry passengers for 60 miles (96 km) at speeds of up to 150 mph (241 km/h) while producing minimal noise.
Not only is Archer’s aircraft design an aviation feat – but it’s also the pinnacle of ergonomic design. With ample leg space and a 270-degree view, thanks to its wrap-around window, you can immerse yourself in total comfort. A large 13-inch touch-screen interface displays flight information and entertainment options.
Archer claims that the Maker is 100 times quieter than conventional helicopters, humming along at around 45 dB when cruising at around 2,000 feet. The noise specification is especially important for eVTOL companies that have air taxi aspirations. Mass adoption will only be acceptable by both the public and regulators if the aircraft is quite enough.
The three-year startup aims to launch commercial operations with a piloted four-passenger version in 2024, starting in LA and Miami. The prototype revealed today is a pilotless two-seater, which will serve as a demonstration testbed for use in the torturous certification process Archer will need to get through to begin commercial operations and mass manufacturing. Archer expects to complete the first Maker air taxi test flights in Q4 of this year, with the manufacturing of the larger production craft expected to kick off sometime in 2022.