‘Midnight’ Developer Archer Achieves FAA Part 135 Certification

24

Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) developer Archer Aviation announced today (June 5) it has received its FAA Part 135 Air Carrier and Operator certificate. This allows the company to legally operate its aircraft, including the developmental Midnight model (after it is certified), “for hire.” Archer said it would use the authority “to refine its systems and procedures in advance of launching Midnight into service for airlines like United Airlines when it receives Midnight’s Type Certification.”

Achieving Part 135 certification involves submitting documentation of operations manuals and procedures and demonstrating proficiency to the FAA for company pilots with those manuals and procedures.

Archer reports it will now use conventional aircraft to refine systems and procedures that will ultimately be incorporated into the Midnight eVTOL aircraft when it receives full Type Certification. The testing “will leverage [Midnight’s] mobile booking application, vertiport technology integrations, and propriety operation software platforms, all currently under development to deliver exceptional experiences and journeys for passengers.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

24 COMMENTS

  1. So they now have a Part 135 certificate to operate “conventional” aircraft. Wow something that has only been done a couple of thousand times before 🙄

    • yep, current FAA database shows 12,006 current Part 135 operators, including fellow eVTOL vaporware purveyor Joby which already tried this same slight-of-hand non-event milestone in 2022 and but evidently is now down to a single SR22 in their “airline” whose flight history can be tracked online and is not doing much

    • Read it again:

      ‘This allows the company to legally operate its aircraft, including the developmental Midnight model, “for hire.”’

      How many Part 135 certificates have been issued for [non-conventional] tilt-rotor aircraft?

      • I invite you to read the article again, it’s been corrected. The section you referenced is removed. So to answer your question:
        “How many Part 135 certificates have been issued for [non-conventional] tilt-rotor aircraft?”

        the answer is still ZERO. Because this there are no certified Powered Lift aircraft. Ever. Again, this is public info. So obviously this “Midnight” model (which is not even being listed as one of the two models in Archer’s experimental airworthiness certs) does not have an actual TC and can’t be used for Part 135.
        As mentioned, anyone can look up what aircraft are associated to a Part 135 operator’s certificate. Clearly, there’s no powered lift aircraft on lister on their 135 cert – in reality, Archer’s new “airline” is just one BE-36 from the early 80’s.

        There’s absolutely no news here, this is not by any means a milestone. Again, I’m not a eVTOL naysayer, but I am a naysayer of inflated accomplishments and misstating the ease of the task at hand.

  2. Part 135 allows operation of named type certificated aircraft for hire, the conventional aircraft mentioned for refining systems and procedures. The midnight aircraft has received a special airworthiness certificate, no small achievement, but which is not eligible to operate for hire.

    • ” The midnight aircraft has received a special airworthiness certificate, no small achievement

      Yeah, the FAA Form 8130-7 does say “special airworthiness certificate” I *guess*, but it seems like they are trying too hard to obscure where they are in the certification process. In reality, they actually just have a experimental cert. for two aircraft which can be looked up very easily:
      – N302AX Model: MIDZERO Ser Num: 001 Manufacturer: ARCHER AVIATION INC
      Engine Man: AMA/EXPR Model: UNKNOWN ENG, 12 engines, 0 seats
      Classification: Experimental Category: None Amateur built
      – N301AX Model: MAKER Ser Num: 001 Manufacturer: ARCHER AVIATION INC
      Engine Man: AMA/EXPR Model: UNKNOWN ENG, 12 engines, 0 seats
      Classification: Experimental Category: None Amateur built A/W Date: 08/01/2023

      and not to diminish it, but getting an exp cert is something me and just about every other guy in my EAA chapter have gotten.

      • Experimental is a special airworthiness certificate. I think getting one, including by you and all your friends, is an achievement. Most of the eVTOL crowd are climate scammers with a slide deck and don’t have even a flying model, let alone a certificated prototype.

        My objection to the article was only pre-correction “(after it is certified)” because I thought it was misleading, as you did. The sentence is still misleading but technically correct. There is no difference between the Midnight aircraft and a thousand other non-type certificated aircraft, but they are not listed in the press release.

  3. Uh, no, this is not correct. Our AVWEB article claims:
    “Archer Aviation announced today (June 5) it has receive its FAA Part 135 Air Carrier and Operator certificate. This allows the company to legally operate its aircraft, INCLUDING the developmental Midnight model, “for hire.””

    BUT that’s NOT TRUE al all (that’s not how Pt135 works) and not even what Archer’s actual press release (with the misleading title “Archer Receives FAA Certification To Begin Operating Commercial Airline”) says:

    “Archer plans to use conventional aircraft now to refine its systems and procedures in advance of launching Midnight into service ***WHEN** it receives Midnight’s Type Certification”
    “This certificate allows Archer to begin operating aircraft commercially to refine its systems and procedures ***IN ADVANCE OF*** launching Midnight into service for airlines like United Airlines ***WHEN*** it receives Midnight’s Type Certification

    Every 135 cert is tied to specific aircraft. You can only use Certified aircraft for Part 135 ops. You can’t have a Part 135 op on imaginary aircraft. There’s no such thing as a certified “Midnight” aircraft.
    Don’t believe me, just look up the current Part 135 spreadsheet “Part 135_Operators_and_Aircraft.xlsx” on the FAA web site.
    They have one plane in this “Commercial Airline”
    ARCHER AIR LLC AXRA 135 WP15 – San Jose (SJC) N1825S E-1898B BE-36-A36

    Yup, that’s it. A crummy 1980’s Beech with a gas engine
    It’s absolutely no accomplishment to get a Part 135 certificate. Anyone can get one. It’s so easy they gave me one – I’ve previously held one on a late 60’s PA-32. It’s no glimpse of the future, it’s just an AIR TAXI permit taxi. They’ll give you one too if you’ve got an ATP , an A&P, clean urine, and can stay awake through a hundred pages of forms. There’s literally a website to get you one in a few weeks.
    So this “milestone” doesn’t mean anything in terms of the viability of their certification attempt, much less the economic feasibility of their endeavor.

    A competitor (Joby) tried this same trick in May 2022 in order to try to manufacture good news for investors after moving the goal posts year after year – but at least Joby had a few SR22s in their “airline”. But strangely enough, Joby is down to one aircraft now:
    JOBY ELEVATE INC JBEA 135 WP15 – San Jose (SJC) N827UR 4403 SR-22
    (I guess they learned everything already about ops?)

    I am not one of those luddites who say eVTOL will never happen. But anyone who understands anything about aircraft certification in general or the convoluted path for Powered Lift understands they none of these companies have achieved any certification milestones whatsoever.
    For example, that same Archer presser says: ” The FAA also recently issued the final airworthiness CRITERIA for the Midnight aircraft.” – WOW, you finally got a certification BASIS straight after 5 years. This is great, now you have some regs, the rest should be really easy. It’s like saying Carl got a copy of the rules from the Federal Election Commission, and now he’s just a few short months from being the next president of the USA.
    Keep in mind eVTOLs are not planes or rotorcraft, they’re Powered Lift. There’s zero certified powered lift aircraft EVER (for a reality check, google the 20+ yr certification effort of the AW609). And all of the powered lift pilots in the world can fit in my back yard, and all the PL instructors in the world fit in my pool. But yep, this is big news…

    • I should have originally specified that the certificate will apply to the Midnight only after it is certified. I have corrected the wording.

      • I appreciate the correction but I do not believe that it is correct to say that there is any connection at all between the (potential) certification of Archer’s new Powered Lift aircraft and it being easily added to this Part 135 cert.
        There’s nothing in the 135 process allows to you to leverage plans for a future a to-be aircraft. Then entire 135 process is completely in the Here-and-Now. In the application, you explain what airplane(s) you are going to be using bow, and explain how you are going to ensure that airplane’s pilot(s) are trained, and how that/those specific airplanes are going to be maintained now (now in the future), etc. etc.
        They evidently put in the paperwork to fly just one Beech A-36 (looks kinda run out but I would agree, not crummy) which of course is a single engine AIRPLANE with a avgas fuel injected engine flown by a pilot with Comm/SEL license.
        In terms of the Part 135 certificate process, what they have “achieved” has absolutely no overlap what they would have to submit to get a 135 cert for w an envisioned eVTOL air taxi with thousands of Powered Lift aircraft, each with 12 electric motors and flown by a Powered Lift pilot. The training, maintenance, dispatch, management, etc. of that type of operation is completely different, and from a review of the FSIMS on FAA, what they are envisioning would basically be an entirely different Part 135 certificate application.
        The idea that somehow after certification of this eVTOL(whose date still unknown), Archer will just be able to add another line to their D-085 OpSpec and then magically fly this new category aircraft a few days later is disingenuous. There’s all sorts of levels of 135 operations, and getting a cert for the most basic level of service doesn’t get you a shortcut to automatically (or even easily) adding a completely different operation or aircraft.
        For example, if someone said they had an Pt 135 air taxi with just one C182 but claimed to investors that they could quickly leverage that for a fleet of hundreds of NYC helicopter taxis, we would roll our eyes, since it’s obvious that these two 135 operations are night-and-day different and equally obvious that your current 135 cert is not applicable,
        But somehow Archer’s claim of using a Reagan-era single piston as the foot in the door for an entirely new category of multiengine aircraft for air taxi with different category (PL) , using a team of hundreds/thousands of non existent PL pilots, hundreds of imaginary PL instructors, and needing equally non-existent qualified maintenance, operations, ground handling, security and management personnel and equally imaginary eVTOL MRO infrastructure is somehow deemed realistic.

  4. It’s 5 minutes before midnight for this contraption, one of the last EV Rube Goldbergs standing. Soon to be forgotten, but not the millions of tax dollars wasted and naïve investors defrauded. Looking forward to a return to aggressive exploitation of our vast and wonderful fossil fuel resources in America, oil & gas pipelines, fracking, etc. come next January.

      • Well William, you took offense after I replied to what I considered as a snide comment about not parking my EV close to my house and mentioned that you spent your life saving lives. Exactly how was that? I can see that you are not concerned about saving the environment or democracy either.

        I do not know if either Archer or Joby will be profitable long term and I expect that a number of the entrants will go bankrupt but I will state that electric aviation is going to happen for some aspects including short to medium haul transport and short to medium distance flight requiring vertical liftoff. Not just because is cleaner and quieter but mostly because the cost will be less and the reliability will be much better.

        • Actually what I said was more of a helpful announcement.

          EV fires in general, and Bolts in particular are liable to burn a house down. I don’t recall but I think you have a Bolt.

          From the recall notice:

          “GM is expanding the current Chevrolet Bolt recall to include model year 2017-2022 Chevrolet Bolt vehicles. With this expansion, all Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles are now recalled due to the risk of the high-voltage battery pack catching fire. The recall applies to all Bolt vehicles, including those that may have received an earlier recall repair for the fire risk issue.

          At this time, GM is asking all Chevrolet Bolt vehicle owners to park their vehicles outside and away from structures, and to not charge the vehicles overnight.”

        • To answer your other question, I was a lifeguard, an EMT, a paramedic prior to becoming a physician. I currently have a patient base of over 2,000 people, and also work weekends at a free Christian clinic that delivers health care for free to those who could not otherwise afford it. This is in addition to other mission work.

  5. Roger you beat me to the scary comment, they look like something out of “WAR of the WORLD”

  6. The amount of Bullsh*t and Brown Rice in the EVETOL press release space is truly astounding. Even by aviation standards the wealth destroying going on is truly epic.

  7. Normal planes are single or twin prop – and they have wings to glide in case the engine(s) fail.
    Some of these eVTOL things have 4 or 8 props – and some have no glider wings.
    Q#1 = how differently do the mega-multi-prop vehicles sound compared to normal airplanes?
    Q#2 = when EVTOL engines fail, what is the glide rate of the vehicle? Has someone graphed the 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 engine failures graph of glide rate?
    Q#3 = has anyone created a sound simulation of 435 eVTOL vehicles flying overhead on a “busy highway in the sky”? How does it sounds when 15 vehicles collide in the sky and fall onto private homes and shopping malls?
    Q#4 = has anyone created a “postcard of the future” with a beautiful sunset over the Golden Gate bridge plus 435 eVTOL vehicles buzzing across the sky in the photo? Do people like this view?
    Q#5 = has anyone simulated 435 eVTOL vehicles “driving” over a wind farm on a windy day with only 67 vehicles being smashed by wind turbines before the wind turbines collapse and fall over with blades flying across the sky?

LEAVE A REPLY