Archer Aviation Completes Midnight eVTOL Transition Flight Milestone

Archer Aviation completed the first transition flight of its Midnight eVTOL on June 8th, flying at speeds of 100+ MPH. (Image: Archer Aviation)

Archer Aviation has completed the first transition flight of its Midnight electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. According to a June 8 announcement, the Santa Clara, California-based eVTOL maker's first transition flight occurred at a speed of 100+ mph.

Archer has now achieved transition with two different full-scale eVTOL aircraft. Transition is well known in the industry as a very difficult milestone few companies have reached. At ~6,500 lbs, Midnight is believed to be one of the largest eVTOL aircraft to complete transition, which is critical to being able to carry commercially viable passenger payloads.

A transition flight occurs when the aircraft takes off vertically like a helicopter, accelerates forward, transitions from thrust-borne to wing-borne flight like an airplane with tilt propellers forward before decelerating and landing vertically.

“Transitioning two generations of full-scale eVTOL aircraft in less than 2 years is another remarkable achievement for Archer’s team. 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,” said Adam Goldstein, Archer’s Founder and CEO.

Midnight is now the seventh full-scale eVTOL aircraft that Archer’s CTO, Tom Muniz, and Chief Engineer, Dr. Geoff Bower, have successfully built and flown in their respective careers. Archer’s first generation full-scale eVTOL aircraft, Maker, successfully achieved transition in November, 2022, eleven months after its first flight, and still flies regularly in the company’s flight test program. Just seven months after Midnight’s first flight, Archer has now successfully transitioned its production eVTOL aircraft as the company continues to build momentum towards commercialization.

“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,” Bower said. “Over the seven eVTOL aircraft I’ve built and flown in my career, they have gotten progressively larger as we pursued payloads that made the aircraft platform commercially viable. 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. I’m extremely proud of Archer’s team as we have now achieved this milestone with two generations of full-scale aircraft.”

At ~6,500 pounds, Midnight is believed to be one of the largest eVTOL aircraft to complete transition. (Image: Archer Aviation)

Midnight’s flight test program will now continue its progress with plans to fly simulated commercial routes to demonstrate the aircraft’s operational readiness, executing high-rate flight operations, testing additional flight maneuvers that will be used in commercial settings along with continuing to expand its speed and endurance flight envelope.

Archer continues to make certification progress as the company has now received its Part 135 and Part 145 certificates from the FAA. Additionally, Archer is one of two companies in the world to have its final airworthiness criteria for an eVTOL aircraft issued by the FAA. Midnight is now in the final “implementation” phase of its Type Certification program with piloted flight testing on track to begin later this year.

Archer’s goal is to transform urban travel, replacing 60–90-minute commutes by car with estimated 10–20-minute electric air taxi flights that are cost-competitive with ground transportation.

Brett Adcock, who is one of the co-founders of Archer Aviation, commented on the progress Archer Aviation and other eVTOL programs are making in a June 16 post to his X account , with a specific focus on Chinese eVTOL company eHang. Adcock was commenting on another user's post about the progress eHang  has made and a perception that eVTOL program advancement and progress in the U.S. is being blocked by civil aviation regulatory authorities.

"Any federal jurisdiction in the world including the U.S. (FAA)*, China (CAA) and Europe (EASA) will certify an eVTOL if it can demonstrate current commercial aircraft safety targets = 1x10^-9 flight hours before a catastrophic event," Adcock writes. "There are no federal level regulators that magically wave a wand and make a highly over actuated electric aircraft pass this safety hurdle. End of story. If China wants to fast track an unsafe engineered aircraft to fly people around then humans will die and so will those eVTOL companies. There is only hard work to get there, no skipping the line."