Midnight (production aircraft)
Palo Alto, California, USA www.archer.com
Archer is developing multiple models of all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft focused on improving mobility in cities. The company announced its launch on May 21, 2020. With a facility adjacent to the Palo Alto Airport (in the San Francisco Bay Area, USA), Archer is “dedicated to reshaping urban air mobility, focusing on saving time for users in urban areas.” The company is led by co-founders Brett Adcock and Adam Goldstein, serial entrepreneurs who recently sold marketplace startup Vettery to The Adecco Group for over $100 million (USD).
Archer Midnight five-seat eVTOL aircraft carries four passengers and one pilot for up to 60 miles (nearly 100 km) at speeds of up to 150 mph (241 km/h), using today’s battery technologies. The company aims to provide a faster, sustainable, and affordable urban transportation option. Archer says “its unique design will also offer passengers increased safety while producing minimal noise compared to helicopters.”
The aircraft has 12 electric propellers: six tilt-propellers (each with five blades) for forward and VTOL flight, and six fixed propellers for VTOL-only flight (each propeller having two blades). The sleek fuselage is completed with high main wing, a V-tail and tricycle fixed wheeled landing gear.
Initially, Archer plans to focus on dense markets with heavy traffic congestion. In the long term, Archer says it will expand its reach, developing a unique air taxi transportation network. “Our goal is to make our electric aircraft just as safe as commercial airliners,” the website states.
Marc Lore, the serial entrepreneur and CEO of Walmart eCommerce, is the largest investor in the company. With Lore’s backing, Archer says it “has the capital needed to lead the urban air mobility market, while leveraging Lore’s unparalleled entrepreneurial perspective.” Lore has a track record of founding ventures “to solve consumer pain points.” Most recently, he sold challenger e-commerce brand Jet.com to Walmart for $3.3 billion. Before starting Jet.com, he sold Quidsi to Amazon for $550 million in 2010.
Archer has attracted top industry talent, with 40 engineers as of May 2020, including talent from competing eVTOL startups Joby, Airbus Vahana and Wisk. Tom Muniz, previously the VP of Engineering at Wisk, has been named Archer’s VP of Engineering, while Geoff Bower will serve as Chief Engineer, a title he held at Airbus Vahana. Alan Chen, who was the head of Flight Controls at Wisk, is now the guidance, navigation and control (GNC) lead for Archer, while Ben Goldman, previously the Aeroacoustic Lead at Joby, is the Acoustics Lead at Archer.
Archer's Top Goals:
Make the cost of Urban Air Mobility affordable cost for the masses
Reduce maintenance costs
Reduce actual maintenance
Reduce energy costs to operate the aircraft
Increase the productivity of the aircraft through ride sharing
Reduce noise of aircraft to less than the normal noise made in residential areas
Increase safety to be as safe as flying in a commercial airliner. This is done by A) Eliminating critical parts, B) Increase component reliability, C) Designing safe aerial batteries and D) Have autonomous systems
Fly within cities for Urban Air Mobility
When the Vahana program ended in early 2020, most of the subsystem leads also moved over to Archer, including for example, aerodynamics, flight controls, flight test and avionics. The two co-founders stressed that they were designing the aircraft to robust standards, such as “a minimum 60 miles of range in the worst case condition” with today’s battery technology at end of life, in realistic flight conditions, with reserves, etc. The company has flown subscale models and is now working on two-seat (approximately 80%-scale) demonstrator called Maker, which should fly in 2021. At program unveiling in May 2020, the team was completing the preliminary design.
Archer's Maker technology demonstrator made its first flight on Dec. 16, 2021 and successfully hovered and then landed back on the ground. This Archer milestone took place with the 118th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight on Dec. 17, 1903 near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA. Archer's head of certification, Eric Wright, who has been reported to be a descendant of Orville and Wilbur Wright, commemorated the occasion by loading a piece of the Wright Flyer into the Maker aircraft before takeoff.
On Feb. 10, 2021, multiple announcements were made:
The name of their eVTOL 80%-scale technology demonstrator aircraft: Maker
The design of their new eVTOL aircraft
A full-scale version of their eVTOL aircraft is planned to be revealed in 2021, aircraft production is set for 2023 and the company plans their first commercial flights to start in 2024
It will "merge with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Atlas Crest Investment Corp (NYSE: ACIC) in a deal expected to provide $1.1 billion USD in gross proceeds, valuing the startup at $3.8 billion post-money." -eVTOL Magazine
"The transaction is expected to close in Q2 2021 and the resulting company will be listed on the the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker ‘ACHR." -eVTOL Magazine
United Airlines announced that it has placed a $1 billion USD order for Archer's eVTOL aircraft with an option to purchase $500,000.00 USD more aircraft. United Airlines wants to start with at least 200 aircraft to operate an air taxi service, flying people to and from airports.
Named their participating investors including: United Airlines, Stellantis, Exor (its venture division), Baron Capital Group, the Federated Hermes Kaufmann Funds, Mubadala Capital, Putnam Investments, Access Industries, Ken Moelis and affiliates, and Marc Lore.
The pro forma equity value of the merger is expected to be approximately $3.8 billion (USD) at the $10.00 per share PIPE price.
Archer Direct - This is the sales division for their passenger and cargo aircraft to sell to commercial and military use
Archer UAM (Urban Air Mobility) - Archer's ride sharing program
Archer's Prime Radiant program - Archer has purchased a commercially available cell phone tracking data software allowing the company to understand how people travel within cities around the world. This systems simulation software is what Archer calls Prime Radiant. This software helps the company to know the best aircraft range and passenger payload, airspace management, price rates, weather knowledge, location of vertiports, the market size and profitability of each city. In summary, this software helps optimize the entire company's activities from manufacturing to air taxi service.
On Feb. 13, 2021, Archer announced it will start air taxi service in Los Angeles (California, USA) by 2024 and Los Angeles is also one of United Airlines major hubs. Archer in their announcement, reminds people they expect their eVTOL aircraft "to travel distances of up to 60 miles at 150 mph using technology available today, transforming how people approach everyday life, work and adventure, while benefiting the environment and working towards a future zero-emissions world."
On August 10, 2022, Archer announced the name of their production aircraft, the Midnight.
On November 16, 2022, Archer hosted an open house to showcase their "Maker" two-seat (uncrewed) eVTOL flight demonstrator, their "Maker 2" back-up aircraft and a mockup of their "Midnight" five seat production aircraft. The company announced they are working to certify the Midnight with the US Federal Aviation Administration in late 2024 and plans to start air taxi service in 2025.
Aircraft type: eVTOL aircraft
Piloting: Will have 1 pilot in the beginning and will have autonomous capability in the future
Capacity: 1 pilot, 4 passengers
Cruise speed: 150 mph (241 km/h)
Range: 20-50 miles (32-80 km)
Cruise altitude: 2,000 feet (610 meters)
Maximum payload: 1,000+ lb (456+ kg)
Maximum takeoff weight: 7,000 lb (3,175 kg)
Propellers: 12 propellers (Each tilt-propeller has 5 blades. Each VTOL-ONLY propeller has 2 blades)
Electric motors: 12 electric motors
Power source: 6 independent battery packs
Noise level during forward flight: 45 dba
Windows: Panoramic windows for spectacular views
Wing: High wing
Tail: V-tail with a short downward facing vertical stabilzer
Landing gear: Fixed tricycle wheeled landing gear
Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft. In addition, the company is increasing the safety of their aircraft by eliminating critical parts, increasing component reliability and designing safe aerial batteries. The company has no single critical points of failure.
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