Archer Aviation gets the green light to operate an electric air taxi service

2024-06-05 09:00

Cars


Archer Midnight eVTOL
Image: Archer

Archer Aviation, a leading electric aviation company based in San Jose, California, announced that it has received a Part 135 air carrier certification from the Federal Aviation Administration, which the company will need to operate an on-demand air taxi service.

That puts Archer on the cusp of launching a fully fledged commercial service using its electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (eVTOL). The company has also received Part 145 certification, which authorizes it to conduct specialized aircraft repair services. The FAA also recently issued the final airworthiness criteria for the Midnight aircraft. Archer is only the second eVTOL company to receive Part 135 certification, after Joby Aviation in 2022.

But before it can launch, it needs to obtain type certification for its Midnight air taxi, which means the aircraft meets all the FAA’s design and safety standards. Midnight is a four-seat eVTOL aircraft plus one pilot, with a range of up to 100 miles (nearly 160km) at speeds of up to 150mph (241 km/h), on pure battery power. Using tilt rotors, Midnight is designed to take off and land vertically like a helicopter and then transition into forward flight like a plane.

Archer came out of stealth in spring 2020 after having poached key talent from Wisk and Airbus’ Vahana project. (That fact spurred a lawsuit from Wisk for alleged trade secret theft, which was finally settled late last year.) The company has a $1 billion order from United Airlines for its eVTOL aircraft and a deal to mass-produce its eVTOL craft with global automaker Stellantis.

Alongside Archer, other electric vertical takeoff and landing companies hope to eventually win full FAA approval, but that process is slow going. It may be a few more years before the FAA grants certification to an eVTOL company — which it has yet to do. Changes to the certification process have created uncertainty about commercialization after the FAA recategorized eVTOL as a “power lift” aircraft rather than an airplane.

Air taxis, sometimes misidentified by the mainstream media as “flying cars,” are essentially helicopters without the noisy, polluting gas motors (though they certainly have their own unique noise profile).

In addition to Archer, companies like Joby Aviation, Volocopter, and Beta Technologies have claimed they are on the cusp of launching services that will eventually scale up nationwide.


Source: https://www.theverge.com/2024/6/5/24171945/archer-evtol-part-135-certification-faa-midnight