Archer’s Maker eVTOL Makes Transition From Vertical to Cruise Flight

Prototype electric aircraft is a testbed for technology Archer plans to use on Midnight, a design it hopes to certify with the FAA.

Archer’s Maker prototype has made a transition form powered-lift vertical flight to forward wing-borne flight. [Courtesy: Archer Aviation]

Archer Aviation Inc. [NYSE: ACHR] said its Maker prototype eVTOL aircraft made its first transition from a vertical takeoff, powered-lift mode of flight to fully wingborne forward flight. The aircraft made the critical transition less than 12 months after its first hovering flight, the company said.

The Maker is now among a small number of full-scale eVTOL test aircraft to make this type of transition so far, and the event marks a major step toward the company’s goal of receiving FAA certification for its production model, called Midnight, in 2024.

The Maker uses 12 electric-powered propellers attached to the front and rear of six booms, or nacelles, mounted to its fixed wing. All 12 props generate vertical lift for takeoff and landing. The six motors at the wing’s leading edge rotate forward for traditional cruise flight while the rear, vertically oriented propellers stop spinning and lock with their blades in an aerodynamic fore-and-aft position.

The recent test flight also was the first time the Maker has flown with its rear propellers locked. The aircraft reached a speed of 91 knots, Archer said. Making the transition from vertical to cruise flight is a critical milestone for “validating the flight physics of Archer’s proprietary 12-tilt-6 propeller configuration that it uses on Maker as well as Midnight,” the company said.

Archer said it has gleaned important information from the Maker’s flight-testing program that it has used to aid in the development of Midnight, which the company unveiled last month.

“From day one, Archer’s strategy has always been about finding the most efficient path to commercializing eVTOL aircraft,” said Adam Goldstein, Archer’s founder and CEO. “The data and experience we’ve gathered from Maker’s rigorous flight testing program has been invaluable to the development and certification path of Midnight, and lends further confidence to our belief that Archer will be the first company to certify an eVTOL aircraft in the US with the FAA.”

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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