Archer, Etihad Partner to Train Air Taxi Pilots in UAE

Archer and Etihad Aviation Training, a subsidiary of UAE flag carrier Etihad Airways, will recruit and train pilots to fly the manufacturer’s flagship Midnight.

Archer Midnight eVTOL air taxi pilot uniform Etihad

An image depicts the potential design for Archer’s pilot uniform. [Courtesy: Archer Aviation]

Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi manufacturer Archer Aviation on Monday added a crucial dimension to its plans for service in the United Arab Emirates, which it expects to launch in 2025.

At the Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Archer announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Aviation Training, a subsidiary of UAE flag carrier Etihad Airways, to recruit and train the initial cohort of pilots that will fly its flagship Midnight eVTOL air taxi nationwide.

Captain Paolo La Cava, CEO of Etihad Training, said the company will install a Midnight flight simulator at its facilities later this year.

“Training a fleet of pilots to operate our aircraft is a critically important part of our efforts to establish a thriving urban air mobility [UAM] network in Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE, and Etihad Training is the premier organization to partner with on this front,” said Nikhil Goel, chief commercial officer of Archer. “As Etihad Training’s first eVTOL partner, we will commence a thoughtful recruiting process and begin to train the first class of qualified pilots to operate Archer’s Midnight aircraft for commercial operations within the region.”

The Midnight simulator will be staffed by Etihad Training personnel at the company’s training center in Abu Dhabi, where it will be used to research and develop pilot training curricula in line with UAE regulations. The partners will work with the country’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to develop training requirements.

Archer hopes for Midnight to begin commercial operations in the UAE as soon as next year, with plans to install vertiports and other UAM infrastructure to expand the service nationwide.

The company’s flagship air taxi is designed for a pilot to fly as many as four passengers on back-to-back, 10-to-20-minute flights, with as little as 10 minutes of charge time in between. Archer claims these trips will be low-noise and cost-competitive with ground-based rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft.

The manufacturer first announced its plans for a UAE service in October, when it partnered with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO)—a state-owned company tasked with promoting private sector growth—Abu Dhabi-based helicopter operator Falcon Aviation, and a local maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) provider.

Archer also joined Abu Dhabi’s Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industry (SAVI) cluster, a collection of UAE government-backed research facilities dedicated to developing air, land, and sea transportation technology.

The following month, the manufacturer announced its third commercial customer, Dubai-based Air Chateau International, which signed an MOU to purchase and operate as many as 100 aircraft. It estimated the value of the deal at around $500 million.

The relationship between Archer and ADIO reached new heights in April, when they signed a framework agreement that the former says comprises hundreds of millions of dollars in investments.

ADIO agreed to assist with Archer’s installation of an international headquarters and engineering “Center of Excellence” in Abu Dhabi, proposed under the October agreement. The company also plans to add manufacturing capabilities in the city, supported by partner Stellantis.

Archer also has the partial backing of Mubadala Capital, a UAE state-owned sovereign wealth fund. All of that funding will be meaningless, however, if Archer does not have pilots to fly its aircraft, underscoring the importance of recruiting and training partnerships such as with Etihad Training.

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Jack is a staff writer covering advanced air mobility, including everything from drones to unmanned aircraft systems to space travel—and a whole lot more. He spent close to two years reporting on drone delivery for FreightWaves, covering the biggest news and developments in the space and connecting with industry executives and experts. Jack is also a basketball aficionado, a frequent traveler and a lover of all things logistics.

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