Archer Aviation is propelling the dream of flying taxis into a tangible reality with its groundbreaking development of Midnight—a four-passenger electric-powered vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. At the Dubai Airshow, Billy Nolen, the company’s chief safety officer, affirmed that what once belonged to the realm of science fiction is now turning into a remarkable scientific achievement, with anticipated market availability as early as 2025.
The firm’s pioneering effort on the Midnight has garnered considerable attention, with expectations of obtaining regulatory approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration by 2025. This milestone is poised to usher in a transformative era in urban air mobility. Supported by major investors like the Emirati sovereign wealth fund Mubadala, the UAE anticipates witnessing Archer’s flying taxis soaring through its skies by 2026.
Nikhil Goel, Archer Aviation’s chief commercial officer, unveiled strategic plans for the UAE’s initial routes, linking Dubai airport to the upscale Palm development and Abu Dhabi airport to the city-center Corniche. Foreseeing high demand surpassing initial capacity, Archer plans to introduce premium pricing that will gradually reduce as the fleet expands, aiming to deploy hundreds of aircraft, thus making flying taxis a more accessible mode of travel in the UAE.
Simultaneously, the company eyes the vast market potential in India. Test flights for the Midnight are already underway in California, showcasing the aircraft’s impressive capabilities. Its design integrates a dozen propellers, each independently powered and wired to ensure safety by reducing the risk of catastrophic failure, complemented by a wing for emergency gliding.
The Midnight boasts rapid recharging capabilities of six to seven minutes, aligning with efficient turnover between trips. At present, it offers a maximum range of around 160 kilometers and speeds up to 240 kilometers per hour. Goel asserts that operating the Midnight is user-friendly, claiming that a 12-year-old can learn to operate it within just 20 minutes in a simulator.
Archer’s business model aims at ride-sharing bookings, initially estimated at $4-5 per mile for passengers, with plans to lower costs gradually in subsequent years. Leveraging existing helicopter routes, the company emphasizes safety, cost-efficiency, and environmental sustainability with its eVTOL solution.
Highlighting urban mobility challenges, Nolen emphasized the Midnight’s zero-emission and eco-friendly nature. With noise levels approximately 100 times lower than traditional helicopters, Archer envisions a neighbor-friendly transportation solution in line with the evolving landscape of smart cities.