The FAA has approved the G-1 certification basis for Archer Aviation’s four-passenger eVTOL aircraft. The company announced today that it has received the G-1 Issue Paper, which clears the way for it to seek type certification under the standards in the agency’s 14 CFR Part 23 regulations.
The next step for the California-based start-up’s engineering team is to finalize its G-2 Issue Paper with FAA officials, establishing the means of compliance to meet the requirements spelled out in the G-1 document. Archer says it has been working with the agency to specify the means of compliance since earlier this year, as well as to determine the tests and methods it will use to demonstrate the safety and compliance of its four-passenger vehicle.
The company aims to certify the all-electric eVTOL in time to begin commercial operations in 2024. It intends to start test flights with its two-seat Maker technology demonstrator before the end of 2021.
Archer’s certification campaign is being led by its head of certification, Eric Wright, who is a former FAA flight test engineer and senior director for certification and compliance with Piper Aircraft. The company is also working with officials in Los Angeles and Miami to prepare for the start of air taxi services and with its manufacturing partner, the automotive group Stellantis.
“Our team is pragmatic and realistic about the steps towards launching our air mobility network,” said co-founder and co-CEO Adam Goldstein. “The aircraft is just one part of the business Archer is building, and we will never lose sight of that final goal. We use accomplishments like the G-1 certification basis to measure our success based on the broader picture of an established urban air mobility network and wide technology adoption.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force’s Afwerx Agility Prime program is to evaluate Archer’s eVTOL aircraft for possible military applications. Under a collaboration agreement announced on September 3, the company will provide the Agility Prime team with data from some of the Maker’s flight tests.
“Through our partnership with the USAF, we hope to accelerate our flight testing timeline and demonstrate the technical readiness level and suitability of our aircraft to the Air Force’s desired applications,” said Archer co-founder and co-CEO Brett Adcock. “We’re looking forward to beginning flight tests of Maker in the months ahead as part of this agreement, which will showcase the advancements we’ve made in bringing our eVTOL aircraft to market.”
During a virtual "open house" event on September 1, Archer showed assembly work on the two-seat Maker aircraft and confirmed that test flights will be conducted autonomously. The larger production aircraft, which is expected to be certified and ready to start commercial air taxi services in 2024, will be piloted.
During the presentation, the Archer founders showed a display of earlier concept designs, and also a video of an earlier test vehicle called Betty flying at low levels. Goldstein said that the Maker resulted from several years of work, with Adcock adding that the company has been collaborating with the FAA on certification plans for the past 18 months.
The Archer co-founders gave a tour of the Maker (tail number N301AX), showing how its forward rotors tilt forward on the 40-foot wing for cruise flight. They showed how the aircraft’s six independent battery packs are installed behind the bulkhead of the passenger compartment. The Maker has an empty weight of 3,330 pounds—markedly lighter than a Tesla X car, which weighs around 5,500 pounds.
The "open house" recording also featured interviews with three of Archer’s key financial backers: Ken Moelis, chairman of Atlas Crest Investment Corp.; entrepreneur Marc Lore; and United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby.
In February, United Airlines signed a provisional $1 billion agreement to purchase 200 aircraft. These will be operated in partnership with its regional affiliate Mesa Airlines to carry passengers to and from major hub airports.
“The G-1 certification basis with the FAA is a pivotal breakthrough and yet another proof point that Archer is at the forefront of revolutionizing the future of urban transportation,” Kirby commented. “We are excited to continue to collaborate with Archer to usher in a new era of sustainability, mobility, and exploration.”