Archer Aviation's Maker demonstrator eVTOL aircraft has completed its first successful hover flight. The flight marks the completion of the company's first full and complete systems test and validation that every hardware and software component is working as intended, to move the aircraft into the air. The flight test was completed in the morning of 16 December, and also resulted in the successful checkout of the company's flight control system in flight and the end-to-end close of flight software. Now that flight has been achieved, Archer will move forward with an ongoing extensive flight test campaign into 2022 and beyond.
In November, Archer's dedicated flight test team, consisting of experts in flight test, battery, propulsion, flight controls, software and avionics, moved from the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, California to a new flight test facility to prepare for this important milestone. Over the past two months, the team has been focused on the Maker's integration and ground testing in order to prepare it for a successful first hover flight, as well as ensuring it meets the FAA's standards for airworthiness certification. After being fully integrated, the Maker moved into its ground testing phase, which included verification of the control and propulsion systems, along with driving the motors at full power and then putting those motors through stress testing to ensure all systems were operational and ready to withstand flight testing. After completing an untethered test, during which the Archer team verified that the entire propulsion and flight control system was functioning correctly, Archer's flight test team approved the aircraft for its first flight.
The moment was particularly significant in aviation history as this week marks the 118th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903. Eric Wright, a descendant of Orville and Wilbur and Archer's own head of certification, placed an historic piece of the Wright Flyer in the Maker for its inaugural flight to mark the full circle moment.
"The past six months has been an incredible journey, from unveiling the Maker to watching it take its first flight," says Archer co-founder and CEO Brett Adcock. "It's been humbling to build a leading eVTOL company and educate the public on clean transportation alternatives. Today is a milestone for both Archer and the future of travel. I'm extremely proud of this exceptional team."
“Everything we've accomplished this year, every milestone hit and partnership struck, was all with one goal in mind: developing both an aircraft and a UAM ecosystem that could scale and change the face of intra-city travel,” adds co-founder and CEO Adam Goldstein. “With our first hover flight now completed, we're one major step closer to that goal and have proved that Archer can work at a fast pace without sacrificing safety or quality. Our team stands ready to continue that pace as we work toward launching an aerial ridesharing service in late 2024.”
As Archer flies into the new year, this testing campaign will broaden to include hover envelope expansion, advancing the Maker's design capabilities and reaching higher altitudes. Following the hover expansion, the team will begin the transition envelope expansion ensuring the Maker is able to move from hover to forward flight. While expanding the Maker's test flights, Archer also plans to unveil its piloted, four-seat production-intent aircraft in 2023.
“As an early investor in Archer, it's been rewarding to watch it grow as a company and really help shape the industry. What began as a mission-driven company to change how we think of daily transportation, has today proved that passion and mission can yield incredible results,” adds entrepreneur Marc Lore. “I congratulate the whole team on today's first hover flight accomplishment and look forward to seeing the way Archer's unique mode of transportation shapes our cities of tomorrow.”