Archer Aviation’s two-seat Maker eVTOL technology demonstrator achieved its first hover flight last week, marking the start of a flight-test campaign that is expected to lead to the launch of commercial services with a four-passenger production model in late 2024. The company announced on December 20 that the initial untethered takeoff was achieved at 10.30 a.m. local time on December 16 at its flight-test facility in California, with the flight being used to conduct initial airborne checks on the flight control system and flight software.
Having achieved its commitment to making a first flight before the end of 2021, Archer said its program timeline calls for flight testing of the Maker to be stepped up from now into 2022, at first expanding the hover flight envelope before progressing to the transition from vertical to horizontal cruise flight. Later in 2022, the company plans to unveil its full-size “production-intent” aircraft, which is still at the preliminary design stage.
A short video about the Maker's first flight shows the aircraft taking off on a rainy day, apparently under the control of a ground-based operator, and hovering at a height of 26 feet. The flight was conducted autonomously with no pilot on board.
“Everything we’ve accomplished this year, every milestone hit and partnership struck, was all with one goal in mind: developing both an aircraft and an urban air mobility ecosystem that could scale and change the face of intra-city travel,” said Archer co-founder and co-CEO Adam Goldstein. “With our first hover flight now completed, we’re one major step closer to that goal and have proven that Archer can work at a fast pace without sacrificing safety or quality. Our team stands ready to continue that pace as we work towards launching an aerial ridesharing service in late 2024.”
In early December, FAA officials issued Archer with a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category for the Maker. This happened after several weeks of ground testing, which included verification of the control and propulsion systems, along with driving the electric motors at full power and stress testing these and other systems.
According to Archer, the company’s head of certification, Eric Wright, placed a piece of the 1903 Wright Flyer aircraft in the Maker for its inaugural flight. December 17 marked the 118th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.