SANTA CLARA, CA—Archer Aviation Inc. recently unveiled its first production aircraft. The four-passenger electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) machine, dubbed Midnight, features 12 tilting propellers.

The aircraft is designed for back-to-back short distance trips of around 20 miles, with a charging time of approximately 10 minutes in-between. Archer hopes to certify its design with the FAA by 2024, and then use it for an urban air mobility network that it plans to launch in 2025.

“From day one, [our] strategy has always been about finding the most efficient path to commercializing eVTOL aircraft,” says Adam Goldstein, CEO of Archer Aviation. “We believe our strategy and team's ability to execute on it has allowed us to establish our leadership position in the market, and is why we are confident we will be the first company to certify an eVTOL aircraft in the United States.” 

Goldstein claims Midnight features “high redundancy and simplified propulsion systems [that] make for a significantly safer aircraft compared to a helicopter. [It] has no single critical points of failure, meaning that should any single component fail, the aircraft can still safely complete its flight. In addition, the electric motors…have significantly less moving parts than those found in a gas turbine or piston engine, allowing it to operate with less maintenance and lower overall risk.”

Midnight is designed to cruise at approximately 2,000 feet and fly quietly over urban areas. During forward flight, the aircraft’s tilt propellers will spin on axes that are aligned with the oncoming air flow, rather than edge-wise to the flow, as is the case with traditional helicopters, which will further decrease noise levels. And, because the eVTOL will be spinning 12 small propellers rather than one large rotor, it can spin them at significantly lower tip speeds, resulting in much lower noise levels.

Archer’s aircraft will be assembled at a new 350,000-square-foot factory in Covington, GA, that’s scheduled to open in 2024.