UAM Snapshot – Archer Midnight

Archer Midnight. Image – Archer Aviation

In the five years since the company’s foundation, California-based eVTOL specialist Archer Aviation rapidly ascended into the headlines of the aviation press as the company accumulated investment capital and attained a succession of partnerships with major operators ranging from United Airlines to the United States Air Force (USAF).

The cornerstone of Archer’s sales pitch is the Midnight, its fully-electric eVTOL design. Fully unveiled in November 2022, the Midnight can carry four passengers and a pilot for up to 100 miles at speeds of up to 150 mph. Alternatively, the aircraft can ferry a payload of over 1,000 pounds. The aircraft is powered by six independent battery packs. Archer boasts a rapid charge rate, giving an estimate of roughly 20-mile flights for only 12 minutes of charge time. The aircraft design features a fixed wing situated above the carriage and a V-tail at the back of the aircraft, all integrating light-weight composite materials. Each side of the fixed wing features a suite of propellers, three on the front of the wing and three on the back.

After several years of preliminary testing, Archer reported that the Midnight had cleared the first phase of its flight-testing program in January 2024. Archer representatives have stated that the company hopes to attain FAA certification for the platform and introduce it onto the market as early as 2025.

Beginning in 2021, Archer began to accrue substantial external investment from a range of parties across the aviation sector.  That year, Archer attained $600 million in investment from United Airlines Holding, with the airline raising a proposal to acquire as many of 200 of the company’s air taxi platforms. In March 2023, Archer and United began taking more concrete steps towards the realization of such an initiative, outlining new plans to develop air taxi routes and infrastructure aimed at servicing Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD). Archer is also coordinating with municipal authorities in cities such as Los Angeles and Miami in the hopes of establishing similar lines.

The Midnight platform has also garnered interest from the United States federal government. Seeking to assess the operational potential and suitability of eVTOL technology in a military context, in 2023 the USAF selected Archer as partner for testing and development pertaining to this objective. This partnership will generate some $142.0 million in contracts over the coming years, with Archer receiving its first payment tranche of $1.0 million from the service in October of that year. In January 2024, Archer and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced plans to collaborate on the development of a testing regime for high-performance battery cells in the aviation context.

Senior Aerospace & Defense Analyst at Forecast International | + posts