Archer Unveils Midnight Production eVTOL


Urban air mobility (UAM) company Archer Aviation officially unveiled the production version of its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) design on Thursday. Called Midnight, the aircraft is an “evolution” of the company’s Maker eVTOL, which completed its first hover flight in December 2021. Archer is targeting late 2024 for FAA certification of the Midnight with the goal of using it to launch an air taxi network in 2025.

“From day one Archer’s strategy has always been about finding the most efficient path to commercializing eVTOL aircraft,” said Archer founder and CEO Adam Goldstein. “We believe our strategy and team’s ability to execute on it has allowed us to establish our leadership position in the market, and is why we are confident we will be the first company to certify an eVTOL aircraft in the US with the FAA.”

Archer noted that Maker and Midnight share its proprietary twelve-motor configuration along with “key enabling technologies” such as the flight control system. Designed to fly trips of around 20 miles with a 10-minute charge time in between flights, Midnight is expected to seat a pilot and four passengers and carry a payload of around 1,000 pounds. According to Archer, Midnight will cruise at approximately 2,000 feet AGL with noise levels at the ground expected to measure around 45 A-weighted decibels (dBA).

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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      • It will probably take 5-10 years for full certification, but it will need to be upgraded mid-process (due to changes in technologies) and then the company will go bankrupt in year 7 of the process. Pretty standard from what’s been done thus far.

    • They may or not ‘need’ it, but “…with a 10-minute charge time in between flights” suggests that it would be typical.

  1. It doesn’t say that the range is 20 miles, only that 20 miles is their target market. That’s a very well established target market – urban air mobility using a VTOL aircraft carrying a pilot and (up to) 4 passengers, for a distance of (up to) 20 miles at 2,000 feet or below is the bread and butter of hundreds of existing air taxi operators. The only difference is that today 100% of them use turbine helicopters.

    Thus the only objective for any of these new entrants is – will my eVTOL aircraft be quieter, greener, but most importantly cheaper to run than a turbine helicopter? They need to beat the cost by enough margin that the operator will invest in new equipment, ground chargers and crew conversion training, but once they accomplish that price gap, they will prevail.

    My frustration with these teaser press releases is therefore not about range or charge time or other fluff. What’s the all-in hourly operating cost of one of these things? It’s the only thing that determines whether it is viable.

    • “Green weenies?” Having done relief work (using donated corporate and personal iron into and out of the disaster zones) in the aftermath of 7 hurricanes, the work of “green weenies” might end up being the only thing that can keep you from having to wade to your car in Miami, or Savannah or New York… or swim to them during a high tide.

  2. Even though yes, it could be said 20-mile passenger hops are an established transport market, the turbine helicopters which currently perform the task also offer vastly greater utility. Operating cost is important but not the only metric that matters, and it is unclear to me that creating an aircraft specifically tailored to that general market makes any financial sense.

  3. Can’t wait for these companies to go live. $JOBY is already a publicly traded company. Expect others to make an equity offering soon. $JOBY is a likely take-out target of $TSLA. $F or $GM would have already bought them had they 1 once of insight.

  4. So these will carry four very rich people whose time is too valuable to spend traveling across town on the ground to and from the airport. It’s a shame the Concordes are all gone.

    • Actually 4 middle class people, only the rich ones can afford to fly the turbine helo. And by the way, the turbine helo, costs a ton to operate, particularly the engine depreciation. Consider that every start adds a cycle to the engine (say three per hour) and at $350,000-$400,000 per overhaul that’s a lot. No issue with the eVTOL.

  5. My question is whether the 1,000 pound payload includes the weight of the pilot. If so, then the actual payload is probably two “average” American passengers and their luggage. That assumes the typical mission is to ferry the passengers to or from the main city airport. Also, a ten minute charge for 20 minutes of flight time sounds like they would be using DC fast charging, which is likely going to accelerate aging of the batteries. Most electric car makers discourage frequent fast charging, opting for slower, overnight charging at a home unit to maximize battery life.

    • Pretty uncommon for properly maintained electric motors to fail. But then, there are 12 of them, so plenty of redundancy, 1 or 2 fans out would be a schedule inconvenience.