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Archer’s Midnight eVTOL performs successful first transition flight

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Archer Aviation has completed the first transition flight of its uncrewed Midnight prototype, a key milestone for the electric vertical take-off and landing developer that could also unlock an additional $55 million in equity funding from automaker Stellantis.

Archer performed the flight — including a vertical take-off, transition to wing-borne cruise flight and return for a vertical landing — on June 8 out of its flight test facility in Salinas, California. The transition between thrust-borne and wing-borne flight is aerodynamically challenging and a major accomplishment for any new VTOL design.

Related: Archer reveals details of plan to operate eVTOLs for United Airlines

The company said the approximately 6,500-pound Midnight prototype, known internally as “Midnight-0”, reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour during the flight. It is the second full-scale eVTOL that Archer has transitioned in the space of less than two years. Archer’s smaller Maker technology demonstrator made its first transition flight in November 2022, although the short video the company released at the time was widely criticized for heavy editing.

Archer is being significantly more transparent this time around, allowing The Air Current to review nine minutes of raw footage of the transition flight taken from a helicopter in advance of its public release. Archer also acknowledged the staged development approach it is using with respect to the non-tilting props mounted on booms aft of Midnight’s wing, which are used only in thrust-borne flight.

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