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Archer launches Maker Urban Air Taxi, first flights planned later this year

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Archer launches Maker Urban Air Taxi, first flights planned later this year

Goalkeeper

Archer Aviation is back on the radar with the unveiling of the Maker, its first urban air mobility vehicle, at a virtual event in Los Angeles. We have already seen flashes and versions of the manufacturer during the last year, but today’s announcement comes with more details and the first photos of the ship. Maker is Archer’s prototype for testing and certification and the first step toward a slightly larger production hall that should follow shortly thereafter.

The Maker is an eVTOL aircraft, which means that it is capable of electric vertical takeoffs and landings. Helicopter-like vertical takeoff means you don’t need a runway and can be launched from space-efficient helipads. Once airborne, the Maker transitions to fixed-wing flight like an airplane, which is quieter and more energy efficient for cruising up to 150 mph.

Throughout the ship’s 40-foot span, you’ll find a total of 12 rotors: six large, five-bladed struts that handle most of the propulsion, and six smaller two-bladed rotors that appear to be used only during hovering. and the transitional one. phase to cruise. Using all-electric motors and multiple small accessories with a lower “top speed” than a single large rotor, Archer claims the Maker is 100 times quieter than a conventional helicopter, humming around 45 dB when cruising at around 2,000. feet.

Archer Maker eVTOL

Multiple struts with tip speeds of around Mach 0.4 (versus 0.7 for a helicopter) are just as important for noise reduction as the electric motor.

Goalkeeper

The two-passenger maker should be quite light. Tipping the scales at around 3,300 pounds, it’s about 700 pounds less than a 2020 Tesla Model 3, which has the same battery size, but also about 1,000 pounds more than a conventional light aircraft of the same size.

Of course, a Cessna 172 cannot land on a helipad in the middle of a city, which is where the manufacturer will see its use. As an urban air mobility vehicle with only 60 miles of cruising range, Archer envisions the Maker serving as an air taxi that transports VIPs from, say, the San Francisco airport to San Jose in just 17 minutes, avoiding up to two hours of traffic on the ground during rush hour. A trip from Manhattan to JFK will only take seven minutes.

The Maker is powered by six independent battery packs with a total capacity of 75 kWh. Archer claims that its distributed electric propulsion system adds safety to the eVTOL through redundancy, stating that the Maker can suffer a complete battery failure or two rotor failures and still land safely. According to Archer, the Maker also uses only about 30 percent of its battery capacity per trip and is designed to quickly recharge between missions in just 10 minutes. Operating at maximum efficiency, the airline estimates that each Maker example will complete up to 40 flights per day.

A Cessna can’t pilot itself either, another ability the Maker claims “fully autonomous.” The only controls on the eVTOL are a 13-inch touchscreen that passengers will likely use to do little more than confirm their destination and monitor their journey in progress. This eliminates the need for a pilot, but the final ship will have a human pilot and room for four passengers that will go into final production.

Interestingly, the declared battery capacity is less than half the 187 kWh specified in the eVTOL craft that Archer announced it was developing in partnership with Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) at CES earlier this year. Either Archer has discovered a better balance between ship weight, power output, and energy density, or the production vehicle that will continue to use the larger package. I am betting on the latter considering the greater passenger capacity; Expect to learn more as Archer moves into production.

Archer expects to complete Maker’s first test flights in the fourth quarter of this year, and manufacturing of the largest production ship is expected to begin sometime in 2022. Among the first customers is United Airlines, which announced plans to buy $ 1 billion in the next eVTOL. as a way to lower your carbon footprint. If all goes well, expect the first commercial flights to launch from Los Angeles and Miami sometime in 2024.

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