Archer rolls out first Midnight aircraft


Archer has completed final assembly of its first production aircraft Midnight ahead of its first test flight this summer. 

On the same day Archer posted its results for the first quarter (Q1) 2023, the firm also announced the roll out of the Midnight from its Palo Alto facility. The aircraft is now being shipped to the flight test facility in Salinas, California where it will be reassembled ahead of flight tests. 

This aircraft will perform critical “company testing” to accelerate and reduce risk on its certification program with the FAA in advance of “for credit” certification testing that Archer plans to begin early next year with piloted aircraft. The strategy with this aircraft is to fly many of the same test points that will be needed during piloted “for credit” flight testing before the FAA witnesses and participates in the testing. 

On a call to investor’s yesterday, Tom Muniz, chief operating officer, Archer said the roll out means the OEM is right on schedule. “This is a huge milestone for us and the industry. We plan to fly this Midnight aircraft extensively throughout the second half of this year, paving the way for piloted flight testing of the fleet of conforming Midnight aircraft we are building to support for credit flight testing with the FAA. We remain on track to begin pilot operations in early 2024,” said Muniz.

Muniz noted to the “great strides” taken in the past few months on the batteries and electric engines. He confirmed Archer has now completed critical testing of Midnight’s batteries at the cell and pack level. “Our proprietary battery packs are built with industry standard cylindrical cells, which we believe have the highest levels of safety and reliability across the industry. Their safety and reliability has been validated through hundreds thousands of hours of extensive testing.”

The firm is happy with its current liquidity position with cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of $450m as of March 31, 2023 coupled with its previously announced strategic funding of up to $150m from auto giant Stellantis. It reported a net loss of $113.1m made up predominantly by $112m spent on operating expenses.

Its integrated test lab and manufacturing facility in San Jose, California is now coming online and construction is underway on Archer’s Covington, Georgia high-volume manufacturing facility.

Archer continues to steadily progress its certification programme with the FAA with planned entry into service in 2025 and has now submitted 15 of its 18 Subject Specific Certification Plans to the regulator.

Adam Goldstein, Archer CEO, said: “This year is a landmark year for the leaders in our industry. Efforts are shifting to building the conforming aircraft that will be used as part of certification testing in advance of commercialisation in 2025. I want to reiterate Archer strategy: build an aircraft with the most efficient path to certification and manufacturing at scale.

“The substantial progress we’ve made to-date gives us high confidence that we will be in a position to begin commercial operations in 2025 with the ability to rapidly scale,” he added.