Air taxi developer Archer Aviation’s Midnight electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft transitioned from hover to forward flight and back again for the first time last week.

Midnight is the northern California-based company’s second prototype aircraft to achieve this milestone. The company’s previous eVTOL prototype, Maker, reached this stage in November 2022, eleven months after first flight.

“Transitioning two generations of full-scale eVTOL aircraft in less than two years is another remarkable achievement for Archer’s team,” Adam Goldstein, Archer chief executive, said on 12 June. “This shows we continue to successfully execute against our plan to create the most efficient path to market with an aircraft that is designed for certification and to be manufactured efficiently at scale.”


Source: Archer Aviation

Archer Aviation’s Midnight eVTOL successfully transitioned from hover to forward flight on 8 June2024

“Successfully completing the transition from hover to wing-borne flight with a full-scale eVTOL aircraft is a tremendous engineering feat that only a handful of companies in the world have achieved,” adds Geoff Bower, Archer’s chief engineer. “Midnight is believed to be one of the largest eVTOL aircraft ever to achieve transition and one of the first that is purpose built to carry enough passengers to be able to operate a successful air taxi business.”

Archer says piloted flight testing is set to commence later this year.

Last week, Archer said it had secured a Part 135 air carrier and operator certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration on behalf of its subsidiary Archer Air. A Part 135 certificate ”allows Archer to begin operating aircraft commercially to refine its systems and procedures in advance of launching Midnight into service for airlines like United Airlines when it receives Midnight’s type certification”, the start-up said at the time.

In May it secured final FAA airworthiness criteria for Midnight, another significant milestone in its effort to launch commercial flights as soon as next year.

Earlier this week, the Federal Aviation Administration released proposed guidance intended to help developers of this new type of aircraft better navigate the type-certification process and better understand how their aircraft will be evaluated by the regulator.

The agency, which published the rules on 10 June, says they “will form the foundation for establishing certification criteria” for eVTOL aircraft.

The FAA also said on 10 June it has reached agreements with Europe’s aviation regulator EASA pertaining to air taxi “performance requirements”, including those related to “safe flight and landing, handling qualities and single-point failures”.