Archer receives $10M deposit from United Airlines for Midnight eVTOL aircraft

Avatar for Jen NevansBy Jen Nevans | August 11, 2022

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 4 seconds.

In an aim to solidify its commitment to purchasing Archer Aviation’s eVTOL aircraft, United Airlines has placed a US$10 million pre-delivery payment for 100 of the startup’s initial production vehicles.  

Archer Aviation
Archer Aviation said it is now preparing to develop and certify its full-size production eVTOL aircraft that the company has named Midnight. Archer Aviation Image

Archer calls the down payment a “watershed moment for the eVTOL industry, validating confidence in the commercialization of eVTOL aircraft.” The company believes this is among the first of its kind for the nascent sector where nearly all provisional sales of eVTOL aircraft lack cash deposits or a formal payment schedule.

“To receive a cash deposit is validation of Archer’s achievements to date, not only with flight testing and product development, but also a great signal of confidence in our roadmap to commercialization,” said Adam Goldstein, Archer’s CEO, in a press release. “We’re thankful to United for their continued partnership as we usher in this new era in air travel.”

In 2021, United announced an order for up to 200 of Archer’s aircraft valued at $1 billion, with an option for an additional $500 million of aircraft. And in April, the companies formed a joint advisory committee, allowing Archer to tap into United’s expertise in airline maintenance and operations as the startup prepares to type certify its production vehicle with U.S. aviation authorities in 2024.

During a second-quarter earnings call, Archer told shareholders that it has successfully completed two phases of the flight test program for its Maker demonstration prototype. This includes all the required tests and performance milestones while in hover, and its “critical azimuth” tests to validate the crosswind capabilities of Archer’s eVTOL aircraft configuration and flight control systems.

“Given the successful completion of these two phases, we remain on track to complete the first full transition flight with Maker in the second half of 2022,” Archer stated in its shareholders’ letter.

The company is now preparing to develop and certify its full-size production aircraft that Archer has named Midnight.

“Our recent successful completion of Midnight’s preliminary design review [PDR] provides us confidence that our technology supports our commercial objectives,” Goldstein said.

As a result of the PDR, Archer said its production aircraft will be able to carry more than 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms) of payload, capable of transporting a pilot and four passengers.

In its financial update, Archer announced a US$71.7 million net loss in the second quarter of 2022, and said its cash and cash equivalents sit at US$654.8 million.

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