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Archer eVTOL deemed airworthy for testing

Special airworthiness certificate in hand, path to certification in sight

Archer Aviation Inc., a Silicon Valley startup with electric vertical takeoff and landing aspirations, is now cleared to join a short (though growing) list of firms with eVTOL prototypes in active flight testing toward certification for commercial service.

Archer Aviation Inc. can begin hover testing Maker, an electric vertical takeoff and landing design, with a special airworthiness certificate recently granted by the FAA. Image courtesy of Archer Aviation Inc.

The company based in Palo Alto, California, announced December 2 that its Maker aircraft, a bullet-shaped fuselage suspended beneath 12 rotors mounted on a wing, is now cleared to commence hover testing. The FAA issued a special airworthiness certificate following an inspection at the company's flight test facility.

“Earning our Special Airworthiness Certificate from the FAA marks a significant moment for our company as we take another leap ahead toward our goal of bringing eVTOL travel to the world,” said Brett Adcock, Archer co-founder and co-CEO, in a news release. “We’re glad to share a commitment with the FAA to create urgently-needed air transportation solutions."

Investors have in recent years pumped billions of dollars into development of electric aircraft, including fixed-wing and eVTOL designs, and the FAA has worked with industry to create company-specific pathways to certification for systems and technologies not anticipated by current regulations. The FAA previously issued just such a certification basis to Archer in September, the company noted in the news release. The company hopes to make its first commercial eVTOL flights in 2024, an ambitious timeline that is similar to the stated intentions of various competitors, including Joby Aviation which announced in July a successful endurance test of Joby's somewhat similar design.

Joby and German rival Lilium emerged this year as front-runners in the eVTOL race, though competitors including Volocopter also hope to be the first to certify an eVTOL aircraft. China's EHang has also been accelerating toward entry into service, possibly within a matter of months (in China), according to recent reports.

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Managing Editor-Digital Media
Digital Media Managing Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.

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