But by 2021 it went public with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger with investment firm Atlas Crest Investment Corp., which provided Archer a reported $1 billion in funding—enough to allow flight testing to begin on a two-seat, autonomous (unmanned) prototype. Once the flight envelope had been expanded, work began on a full-scale test article.
Powered by lithium-ion batteries, the Maker (its production version will be called Midnight) is powered by six tilting propellers on its wing leading edges, plus six additional, smaller propellers for use in vertical flight only. Transitional flight testing should be completed by the second half of 2022, certification should come in 2024, and entry into service is expected in 2025.
Initially, the intent is to use the Midnight in the New York City area, to shuttle passengers from New York’s Downtown Manhattan Heliport to the Newark Liberty International Airport, a trip that should take less than 10 minutes, Archer says. The Midnight will be piloted, have four passenger seats, and have a payload of 1,000 pounds.
Although expanded details about the Maker/Midnight have been scant, the project appears to have garnered no small amount of attention from the airline community. United Airlines, which will operate the New York to Newark route, has made an order for up to 200 of the air taxis in a deal worth $1 billion, and made a pre-delivery payment of $10 million to Archer.