California, USA-based Archer has completed the first transition from vertical to a horizontal cruise flight with its Maker prototype eVTOL aircraft.
The milestone transition was achieved during a test flight at the end of month, less than a year after its first hover flight.
The Maker prototype successfully moved from using the lift generated by the propellers at low speeds to lift generated by its wing at higher speeds, with its tilt propellers locked forward in the cruise position
Maker has 12 propellers attached to six booms on a fixed wing. All 12 propellers provide vertical lift during take-off and landing. The forward six propellers tilt forward to cruise position to provide propulsion during forward flight, with the wing providing aerodynamic lift like a conventional airplane.
During the cruise part of the flight, Maker flew at a calibrated airspeed of 105mph (170km/h).
Archer’s 12-tilt-6 propeller configuration used on Maker will also be used in the production eVTOL aircraft called Midnight, which was unveiled earlier in November. Archer plans to certify Midnight, a five-seater aircraft with a range of around 20 miles (32km) with the FAA in late 2024.
The Maker flight testing program is demonstrating a number of key enabling technologies for Midnight, including the aircraft’s flight control system and generating data for use in the development and certification process.
Adam Goldstein, Archer’s Founder and CEO said, “From day one, our strategy has been about finding the most efficient path to commercializing eVTOL aircraft.
“The data and experience we’ve gathered from Maker’s rigorous flight testing program has been invaluable to the development and certification path of Midnight, and lends further confidence to our belief that Archer will be the first company to certify an eVTOL aircraft in the US with the FAA.”
Geoff Bower, Archer’s chief engineer responsible for Maker’s flight test campaign said, “This significant achievement is a testament to the countless hours of design, simulation and wind tunnel testing that our team has conducted behind-the-scenes.
“Looking forward to the commercialization of Midnight, we’ll continue to draw upon the incredible findings and lessons learned from Maker’s flight testing program.”
Archer has published a blog post detailing technical details from Maker’s flight test program by Bower.