California-based manufacturer Archer Aviation completed the first full transition flight of Maker, a two-seater electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
According to Archer’s statement released on December 1, 2022, Maker developed a calibrated airspeed of 91 knots (around 105 miles per hour or 168 kilometers per hour) with its tilt propellers locked in cruise position.
“Full transition occurs when the aircraft transitions from lift generated by the propellers at low speeds to lift generated by the wing at higher speeds, and the tilt propellers are locked forward in the cruise position,” Archer explained.
According to the manufacturer, Maker is one of the world’s first full-scale eVTOL aircraft to perform such a flight. The fully wing-borne flight was performed around 12 months after the Maker’s first hover flight.
Results of the Maker’s first full transition flight have generated data that will be used for the development of Midnight, the production eVTOL aircraft that Archer currently builds.
“The success of the Maker flight testing program also demonstrates a number of the key technologies for Midnight, such as the aircraft’s flight control system,” the statement reads. “The Maker flight test program has generated invaluable data that Archer has leveraged in the development and certification process for Midnight.”
Maker vs Midnight
Maker, Archer’s first demonstrator aircraft, was unveiled in June 2021. Designed for air taxi services across urban areas, Maker features 12 propellers attached to six booms on a fixed wing.
All 12 propellers provide vertical lift during both take-off and landing. The forward 6 propellers have five blades each and help the aircraft tilt forward to cruise position to provide propulsion during forward flight. Its wing provides an aerodynamic lift similar to a conventional plane. Meanwhile, the other six stationary propellers are designed for VTOL-only flight and feature two blades each.
The aircraft is powered by six battery packs which make it capable of operating at a speed of up to 150 miles per hour (around 241 kilometers per hour) for more than 60 miles (96 kilometers).
Having performed its first flight in December 2021, Maker was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) the same year.
Midnight, Archer’s latest and larger eVTOL aircraft, is being developed to fly four passengers.
With its expected payload of over 1,000 pounds (453 kilograms), Midnight will serve short-distance trips of around 20 miles (more than 32 kilometers) on routes connecting airports and downtown city centers. Midnight charging time between flights is estimated to take up to 10 minutes, according to the manufacturer.
Archer is currently working to certify Midnight with the FAA in the US in late 2024.
Pending the certification of both aircraft, the manufacturer plans to launch its Urban Air Mobility (UAM) network service in 2025. The first air taxi services will be offered in key US cities, particularly in Miami, Florida, Los Angeles, and California.