In a surprise announcement, Brett Adcock, public face and co-founder of Archer Aviation (NYSE: ACHR)—one of the leading developers in electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft—is stepping down as co-CEO.
Archer explained the move in a statement released Monday: “The company took this step, which it believes will help simplify its operating structure, to drive its flight testing and certification program on its path to commercialization.” Archer co-founder Adam Goldstein, the statement said, has been named Archer’s sole CEO.
On his personal Twitter account, Adcock said his stepping down “is bittersweet for me as I move on from something I poured my heart and soul into and care about deeply.” Archer frequently put Adcock front and center in dozens of company videos describing Archer’s mission, technology, and expected passenger experience.
Archer is among hundreds of eVTOL developers trying to create an entirely new form of zero-emission transportation for short flights over gridlocked urban traffic. However, it’s one of only a handful of companies that are actually test flying eVTOL demonstrator aircraft. In addition to manufacturing eVTOLs, Archer intends to operate an on-demand air taxi service—a vertically integrated business model that experts say will be very expensive to successfully execute.
Adcock will remain on Archer’s board of directors, according to Archer, but he offered no immediate details about next steps. “I will have more to share on my future plans in the next few months,” Adcock tweeted.
Update on my role at Archer: pic.twitter.com/DiuRkXS91P
— Brett Adcock (@adcock_brett) April 18, 2022
In his tweet, Adcock invited the media to go to his personal website—not Archer’s company site—for further inquiries. When FLYING did so, Adcock thanked FLYING for its inquiry and said, “I am not able to comment at this time beyond what I’ve said online.”
The timing of the announcement comes at a critical juncture, as the Silicon Valley-based company works to earn FAA type certification of its tilt-rotor eVTOL air taxi. A test article dubbed Maker has only been flying since last December. For any company trying to raise large amounts of capital to develop an entirely new product, managing the optics surrounding key leadership changes is important in order to maintain credibility and stability. Often they’re signaled well in advance, unlike this one.
Although Archer has reported significant strides toward achieving certification for its air taxi, the aircraft must pass through several more regulatory steps before earning its certificate. It received FAA approval for its G-1 Certification Basis last September—establishing airworthiness and environmental requirements necessary to achieve type certification under Part 23. Archer has said it expects to be certificated by 2024, and begin offering on-demand air taxi service under Part 135.
Archer shares Tuesday opened at $4, slightly up from Monday’s close of $3.97. Last month, the company reported it had ended 2021 with nearly $750 million in cash and cash equivalents.
Adcock’s departure also comes amid Archer’s federal court battle with Boeing-backed rival Wisk Aero. In February, Archer announced that federal prosecutors had decided not to charge an Archer employee who had been accused of stealing trade secrets from Wisk.
Less than four months ago, Adcock announced on Twitter he was embarking on a journey to earn his pilot certificate, and shared some of his experiences about that with FLYING. He said the decision to learn to fly “was a logical step for me to take to make sure I can appreciate the perspective of the pilots that will eventually join our team.”
Archer gained attention a year ago when it announced a $1 billion purchase agreement with United Airlines. Archer board member, and former United CEO, Oscar Munoz expressed confidence in Goldstein in Monday’s statement.
“In the past year, Archer has achieved its stated milestones and continued to build out its leading engineering, design and certification teams putting the company in a strategic position for winning,” Munoz’s statement said. “Under Adam’s leadership, this management structure will continue to drive the success of the company.”