Archer Aviation (NYSE:ACHR) released a new video on Thursday, offering insight into the California-based electric air taxi developer’s flight test campaign.
The video shows Archer Maker Prototype electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) prototype hovering over the company’s flight test facility in rural California. “Maker flew exceptionally well,” said Matt Deal, Archer flight test manager, in the video. “We flew for about three minutes at 35 feet.” These tests, Deal said, help engineers determine the plane’s stability characteristics.
Archer is just one of a handful of eVTOL developers in the United States and elsewhere currently testing flight prototypes for an entirely new form of air travel. Although none have been certified by aviation regulators, Archer and others have made significant progress.
Backed by United Airlines (NASDAQ: UAL)—Archer flew for the first time Maker in an unmanned flight last December. Last month, the company announced an expanded flight test program with a configuration that supports vertical-to-horizontal transition flight, which is widely recognized as one of the toughest technical challenges in development. of the eVTOL.
Low Altitude Hover Profile
The recently released video, which is less than a minute long, shows Maker performing a hover profile at low altitude, while engineers and technicians collected flight test data in a control room.
The measurements on the left side of the video seemed to indicate the vertical speed of the aircraft.
In a separate Archer video, Navigation and Control Engineer (GNC) Nihar Gandhi said Maker performed a set of maneuvers called “chirps” – also known as frequency sweeps – which he described as “what feels like a jiggle in a bunch of different axes”.
The maneuver offers engineers the opportunity to “learn a lot about the behavior of the aircraft” in just a few seconds.
During flight testing of conventional rotorcraft, pitch frequency sweeps are used to help measure pitch response and stability margins in the longitudinal axis. Occasionally, during flight testing of experimental rotorcraft, pitch chirps can identify potentially divergent pitch responses.
The content-rich data will be analyzed by engineers, who will use it to “learn a lot about what exactly is going on in the physics and the control system of the aircraft,” Gandhi said.
In future flights, Deal said engineers plan to focus on “pedal turns and expanding the climb and descent envelope.”
About the plane
Archer says it remains on track for FAA type certification in time to launch an air ride-sharing service in late 2024. Eventually, Archer and other eVTOL air taxi developers plan to scale up flight operations , providing emission-free transportation to avoid the traffic jam of city traffic on the ground.
Maker features a tilt-rotor propulsion design and a V-tail. Powered by lithium-ion batteries, Archer’s production model air taxi is expected to cruise at 130 knots with a range of 60 sm. The noise level should be 45 decibels at 2000 feet agl.