Archer’s Midnight flies first uncrewed transition flight



Archer has published visuals of the first full transition flight of its Midnight aircraft which took place on June 8th at its test facilities in Salinas, California. 

Achieving speeds in excess of 100mph, the transition flight is the second successful test with a full-scale eVTOL prototype conducted by Archer after its smaller demonstrator Maker flew the phase in November 2022. The video released at that time received criticism for its editing, fast forward to today and the visuals are way more transparent.  

Transition is well known in the industry as one of the most challenging milestones few have reached — examples include US firm BETA Technologies and Chinese developer AutoFlight. A transition flight occurs when the aircraft takes off vertically like a helicopter, accelerates forward, transitions from thrust-borne to wing-borne flight like an airplane before decelerating and landing vertically.

Adam Goldstein, Archer’s founder and CEO said: “Transitioning two generations of full-scale eVTOL aircraft in less than 2 years is another remarkable achievement for Archer’s team. This shows we continue to successfully execute against our plan to create the most efficient path to market with an aircraft that is designed for certification and to be manufactured efficiently at scale.”

Midnight is now the 7th full-scale eVTOL aircraft that Archer’s chief technology officer, Tom Muniz, and chief engineer, Dr. Geoff Bower, have successfully built and flown in their respective careers.

“Successfully completing the transition from hover to wing-borne flight with a full-scale eVTOL aircraft is a tremendous engineering feat that only a handful of companies in the world have achieved,” said Bower. “Over the seven eVTOL aircraft I’ve built and flown in my career, they have gotten progressively larger as we pursued payloads that made the aircraft platform commercially viable. Midnight is believed to be one of the largest eVTOL aircraft ever to achieve transition and one of the first that is purpose built to carry enough passengers to be able to operate a successful air taxi business.”

As well as expanding Midnight’s flight envelope, the flight test programme will also begin to fly simulated commercial routes to demonstrate the aircraft’s operational readiness. This will include high-rate flight operations and testing additional flight manoeuvres that will be used in commercial settings.  

Midnight is now in the final “implementation” phase of its type certification programme with piloted flight testing on track to begin later this year.