An idea dreamed up more than a decade ago by a couple of college mates to reduce urban traffic congestion and carbon emissions took flight Thursday night with the unveiling of the Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft Maker. by the startup. Archer Aviation.
The battery-operated Maker is a self-contained two-seat demonstration model for an eVTOL designed to take off and land like a helicopter and fly up to 60 miles at 150 miles per hour at 2000 feet to transport people between cities and airports or other short places. -Buying destinations according to Archer co-founder and co-CEO, Brett Adcock. Six independent battery packs power 12 electric motors and the aircraft is 100 times quieter than a helicopter at altitude and generates a barely audible 45 decibels, Adcock said.
“Here at Archer we are working on a project that has the potential to help curb carbon emissions, which is important, it has the potential to help solve traffic problems because even if we have electric cars on the ground, we are not solving problems in cities about getting around, “Adcock said in an interview.
Production of Maker’s four-seat pilot successor is scheduled to begin in 2022 at a site yet to be determined with delivery of the first aircraft scheduled for 2024. Los Angeles and Miami will be the first cities where Archer will offer service because they are both well known. for its notorious traffic congestion, according to Adcock.
The company plans to charge between $ 3.00 and $ 4.00 per passenger mile, or about $ 50 for a seven-minute flight between Manhattan and JFK International Airport in Queens, Adcock said.
Archer isn’t the only company working on vertical take-off and landing planes to move people around cities as the new industry called Urban Air Mobilities (UAM) takes flight.
Early Thursday, aircraft and drone developer eVTOL Astro aerospace Y Aircraft horizon, developing advanced hybrid electric eVTOLS announced the completion of testing for a small-scale prototype. The companies said they will now shift focus to another larger eVTOL prototype with test flights planned for the first quarter of 2022.
Astro said it is scheduled to begin production of its first full-size jet in the first quarter of 2024. That jet would be based on Horizon’s Cavorite X5, which is expected to travel up to an estimated 280 miles per hour with approximately 310 miles per hour. miles of flight. distance.
UAM represents one of two revenue streams in Archer’s split business model. Its UAM business will operate half of the aircraft it produces as an air taxi service.
He predicts that each plane will generate more than $ 2 million in annual revenue and more than $ 1 million in operating profit when all costs are taken into account, including batteries, pilots, maintenance, landing fees and depreciation.
Archer’s second source of revenue is triggered by a $ 1 billion order for aircraft from United Airlines, which also has the option to purchase aircraft for an additional $ 500 million. The plane, to be delivered in 2024, would be used primarily to transport passengers between its main hubs.
“Working with United as an investor, a strategic partner, is synergistic,” Adcock said. “One plus one equals three with them. They are helping us to better reach the market, to bring in resources. It is a great association.
United will assist Archer with general operations, including pilot and crew training, maintenance, certification and airport site selection, while Archer will assist United through its advanced technology.
“We have a complete team here that does systems simulation. We have internal data that shows where all the inhabitants of a city are going at each moment of the day. We know how to model vehicles … how long it takes to charge, how long it can fly, how much maintenance, “explained Adcock.
Two other major partners provide manufacturing and financial support to help make Archer’s vision a reality.
In February, Archer announced that it would merge with Atlas Crest Investment Corp., a Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or SPAC which will result in Archer becoming a publicly traded company, which will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. York at a date yet to be determined. . The company’s ticker symbol will be ACHR.
The business combination agreement is expected to provide $ 1.1 billion in gross revenue to the combined company, according to a company statement.
To offset production costs for electric aircraft made from expensive composites, Archer and Stellantis entered into an agreement in January that gives the startup access to the low-cost supply chain and the manufacturer’s engineering and design capabilities. Of automobiles.
In large part, it’s about finding a way to produce relatively few aircraft at a profit.
“We cannot be successful producing 1,000 aircraft a year,” Adcock said. “Stellantis produces many vehicles. So how can we produce fewer than a thousand aircraft in a year in a way that is highly scalable? ”.
Stellantis had already collaborated with Archer on the design of the Maker’s cockpit.
It’s all very exciting for Adam Goldstein, co-founder of Adcock and Archer, who met as students at the University of Florida, where, Adcock recalls, “we did some engineering work.” Now they have been working together for 13 years working and developing electric airplanes. They started a company in 2012, sold it in 2017, and created Archer in 2018, moving headquarters to Palo Alto, California, employing a few hundred people.
For Adcock, the journey began in the central Illinois town of Moweaqua, where he grew up in a farming family that grew corn and soybeans. In addition to helping out in the field, Adcock enjoyed “creating and solving engineering problems, which, he said, led him to what he called the focus of his life,” working on more difficult engineering problems to make the world a better place to. live and i like to work. in things that excite and inspire me every day to improve the future. “
Together with his college classmate Adam, Adcock is confident that his company is now on a vertical glide path to achieve that goal.
“It works,” he said during the Thursday night presentation, “and we think it’s going to change the world.”