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July 19, 2024
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Archer has completed the final assembly of the first Midnight aircraft and is readying the eVTOL for the first flight and test program later this summer. The vehicle will start with ground testing at the Salinas (California) test facility, where the Midnight was reassembled after arriving from its Palo Alto factory last week.

This so-called non-conforming version of the Midnight will play a key role in the test program toward FAA certification. The power system and avionics have been tested in the past months and the software was loaded on the first aircraft. It was also powered up before being shipped to Salinas. The Midnight was unveiled in November.

Ground tests are scheduled to take up two months and will be followed by the first flight this summer. Piloted tests are scheduled to start in early 2024. The Midnight will get as many flying under the wings to validate the aircraft before the FAA will participate in the testing and certification phase.

“This aircraft will accelerate and reduce risk on our certification program paving the way for our team to focus on building and conducting piloted operations with conforming aircraft to support the goal of entering into service in 2025,” said Adam Goldstein, CEO of Archer.

Component manufacturing for the so-called conforming aircraft has already started in Palo Alto. Production tooling for major structural assemblies of the conforming aircraft has been completed and validated. Final assembly of the first aircraft is scheduled for Q4 this year, followed by the piloted flights in early 2024. Archer intends to assemble six conforming Midnights to support certification. The company announced an industrial partnership with automotive company Stellantis in January.

Department of Defense has an interest

Archer announced on Wednesday that the Midnight has garnered interest from the US Department of Defense. Of particular interest is the payload of around 1.000 pounds that can be carried on the electric aircraft over a back-to-back distance of twenty miles. The company has completed various projects for the DoD and is working on more.

The DoD has established a Government Services Advisory Board “to build on Archer’s expertise and perspective of government programs and procurement strategies to allow Archer to more fully engage with US government and public safety agencies to explore additional opportunities to commercialize eVTOL aircraft.” The Board has appointed six highly-experienced military leaders to evaluate options with the Midnight.

Rival Joby Aviation announced in April that the US Air Force has signed up for nine eVTOLs to test their suitability for passenger and cargo roles.

Q1 results

Archer reported a $-113.1 million unaudited net loss for the first quarter, which compares to $-59.2 million in the same quarter of last year. Total operating expenses were $112 million and increased from $65.3 million in March 2022 to $108.1 million in December last year. The company expects operating expenses of $110-$120 million in Q2. Archer ended the first quarter with $450 million in cash and cash equivalents, down from $531.2 million in December.

author avatar
Richard Schuurman
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016. Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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