Archer Aviation has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA that kicks off with an initial project focused on studying high-performance battery cells and safety testing for AAM and space applications.
Archer believes that while the supply chain for electric vehicles in the US is maturing, the supply chain for electric aircraft remains nascent, not just in the US but globally, so this testing will help push progress forward. NASA's goal is to test Archer's battery cell and system design and share the results to push the entire AAM industry forward. Maturing battery technology is anticipated to be a key enabling factor for the mass production and adoption of electric aviation.
Archer plans to deliver a high-performing battery pack with leading levels of safety to its Midnight electric air taxi, validating that these cells are tailor made for aerospace applications, including eVTOL, eCTOL aircraft and potential usage in space.
"We're extremely proud to partner with NASA, which has pioneered the eVTOL industry over the last three-plus decades, in support of our collective mission to ensure US leadership in aerospace continues for decades to come," says CEO Adam Goldstein. "Many countries around the world are challenging the US in this new era of flight, and our country is at risk of losing its global leadership position unless we work together, government and industry, to ensure we seize the moment and pioneer this new era of aviation technology, which stands to benefit all Americans."
As part of the joint efforts around battery characterisation, NASA and Archer will focus on further testing the safety, energy and power performance capabilities of the battery cells. Tests will be performed using one of the most advanced high speed X-ray facilities in the world, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, to understand how the cells function during extreme abuse cases. Archer has chosen these cells to power the proprietary electric powertrain system it has designed, developed and is beginning to mass manufacture for its Midnight air taxi. The battery cell form factor, a cylindrical cell, has a track record of safety, performance and scalability proven through decades of volume manufacturing, deployed across many applications globally, including in millions of electric vehicles.
AAM promises to provide substantial public benefits to communities, including transforming how urban and rural communities live and commute by maximising mobility, bolstering cargo and logistics options, and creating pathways to manufacturing jobs and other ladders of social and economic opportunity. Core to unlocking this potential is designing, developing and mass producing batteries and electric motors that are purpose built for electric aircraft.
The OEM has also made two key hires. Long-time private aviation executive Miles Rogers becomes senior vice president and head of marketing, and Sterling Gerdes has joined as product lead for vertiport experiences.
Rogers, who brings 20 years of experience at private aviation companies, will lead and oversee global marketing efforts.
Most recently he was chief strategy officer at Delta Air Lines-backed Wheels Up and before that served as senior vice president of Marquis Jet, a private aviation company acquired by NetJets. Gerdes spent over seven years at Delta Air Lines, focused on bringing new products to customers and overseeing its early AAM strategy. Their combined experience and skills will be integral to Archer's commercialisation efforts as the company readies for planned entry into service of Midnight in 2025.
"Miles and Sterling bring the perfect mix of experience and skills to Archer's management team as we accelerate towards commercialisation in 2025," says CCO Nikhil Goel. "At Wheels Up, Miles pioneered key strategic initiatives to build the company into a well known brand. At Delta Air Lines, Sterling oversaw the company's early AAM strategy, with a focus on integrating eVTOL aircraft into its operations to upgrade a traveller's home-to-airport experience. We couldn't be more excited to have both leaders join the Archer team."
"I'm honoured to be joining Archer as the level of talent that has come to work here is unlike anything I've ever seen in my career, and ensures we're set up to successfully execute the company's vision across every aspect of the business," notes Rogers. "The value proposition it is poised to deliver with the Midnight eVTOL aircraft goes well beyond saving people time. We have the opportunity to change our customers' perspective on the communities they live in by providing a travel experience that unlocks new worlds of opportunity. I look forward to building out our strategic initiatives with new partners all over the world as we bring our brand to market and change the game in urban transportation."
"At Delta, I had the opportunity to interact with all of the major eVTOL aircraft manufacturers globally and decided to come to Archer because, for me, its vision and execution have driven the company's impressive ascent to the top of the industry over the last few years. I'm thrilled to be joining this team at such an exciting time to lead the maturation of the customer experience in preparation for bringing Midnight to market," adds Gerdes.