Archer Aviation’s Midnight eVTOL Completes Wind Tunnel Tests

The eVTOL’s development is ‘on pace’ in the certification process, Archer said.

A scale model of the Archer Aviation Midnight eVTOL goes through testing in the RUAG wind tunnel. [Courtesy: Archer Aviation]

Archer Aviation said its Midnight eVTOL aircraft recently completed a six-week series of tests in the RUAG AG’s Large Subsonic Wind Tunnel in Emmen, Switzerland.

The San Jose, California, company said the tests covered a range of data regarding aircraft performance, stability and control characteristics, and the effects of icing. Archer said the tests are part of a validation process that, so far, is “on pace for Midnight’s upcoming flight test program.”

RUAG is known in the aviation industry for its wind tunnel testing capabilities. The company said it can perform tests used to validate aircraft designs from initial concepts through final production versions. At this point, Archer is testing a 27.6-percent scale model of the Midnight with a wingspan of over 13 feet. The company said this particular size allows it to gather as much data as possible while still fitting properly within the tunnel.

The recent tests focused on the aerodynamic characteristics of the airframe without its propellers deployed. Archer said the tests included a process of essentially assembling the aircraft piece by piece while running tests at each stage—what they call an airframe component build-up. Starting with a bare wing and fuselage, testers add the booms, landing gear, tail, and other components.

“This build-up approach allowed us to investigate and clearly understand the incremental effects of each airframe component,” the company said.

The company said the tests have largely boosted its confidence in elements of the Midnight design, including the size and deflection of the aircraft’s control surfaces and predictions about aerodynamic loads. The next round of tests will look at the effects of the Midnight’s propulsion system on its overall aerodynamics.

“Altogether, these learnings, and those still being mined from the rich dataset we collected, allow us to take a significant step forward in the development and certification of Midnight,” the company said.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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