The U.S. Air Force has gotten the ball rolling on its recently announced contracts with electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacturer Archer Aviation.
Archer on Wednesday received the Air Force’s initial installment of nearly $1 million, the first of what is expected to be many payments under the agreement valued at up to $142 million. In return, Archer sent the Air Force a mobile flight simulator, specified as a deliverable under the contracts.
The transaction marks the beginning of Archer’s relationship with AFWERX, the Air Force’s innovation arm, and its vertical lift division, Agility Prime, which also works with advanced air mobility (AAM) rivals Joby Aviation and Beta Technologies.
The arrangement will eventually culminate in flight testing of Archer’s five-seater Midnight eVTOL with Air Force pilots on board. First, the company will deliver up to six of the aircraft to an unnamed Air Force Base. A time frame has not yet been specified, but the first contracted payment sets things in motion.
Archer hopes to begin ferrying up to four passengers at a time (plus a pilot) to and from airports in partnership with United Airlines in 2025. It will start with air taxi routes near O’Hare International Airport (KORD) in Chicago and between Downtown Manhattan and Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR) in New Jersey.
“Archer’s eVTOL technology can help maintain the United States’ position as a global leader in aviation,” said Adam Goldstein, the company’s founder and CEO. “To see our historic contract with the U.S. Air Force move from signature to execution at a rapid pace is a reflection of the strong commitment that the U.S. Department of Defense has made to securing our country’s future by investing in transformational technology.”
Getting the Ball Rolling
Initially, Archer and the Air Force will use the mobile simulator to begin training pilots on Midnight’s…