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Flying Taxis: Archer Aviation's Vision for Urban Air Mobility Takes Flight

The cockpit of an Archer Aviation electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) flying taxi is pictured during the 2023 Dubai Airshow at Dubai World Central   -  
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United Arab Emirates

Archer Aviation is pioneering the development of the Midnight, a four-passenger electric-powered vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

Flying taxis, a long-standing dream of futurists and sci-fi enthusiasts, are poised to become a reality, and Archer Aviation is at the forefront of this transformative journey. The company's chief safety officer, Billy Nolen, declared at the Dubai Airshow that what was once considered science fiction is now science fact, with tangible progress expected to hit the market as early as 2025.

Archer Aviation is pioneering the development of the Midnight, a four-passenger electric-powered vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Regulatory approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration is anticipated by 2025, setting the stage for a paradigm shift in urban air mobility. The UAE, with major backers including the Emirati sovereign wealth fund Mubadala, is slated to witness Archer's flying taxis taking flight as early as 2026.

Nikhil Goel, Archer Aviation's chief commercial officer, revealed plans for initial routes in the UAE, connecting Dubai airport to the luxurious Palm development and Abu Dhabi airport to the city-center Corniche. Demand is expected to outstrip initial capacity, leading to premium pricing that will gradually decrease as the fleet expands. Archer envisions deploying hundreds of aircraft in the UAE, making flying taxis a more accessible mode of transportation.

Simultaneously, Archer is eyeing the vast market potential in India. Test flights for the Midnight are already underway in California, showcasing the aircraft's capabilities. Its design incorporates a dozen propellers, independently wired and powered to mitigate the risk of catastrophic failure, along with a wing for gliding in emergencies.

The Midnight boasts a rapid recharge time of six to seven minutes, aligned with the efficient turnover between trips, and offers a current maximum range of approximately 160 kilometers at speeds around 240 kilometers per hour. According to Goel, flying the Midnight is remarkably straightforward, with the claim that a 12-year-old in a simulator could learn to operate it in just 20 minutes.

The business model envisions ride-share bookings, with initial passenger costs estimated at $4-5 per mile, gradually decreasing over the following years. Archer aims to capitalize on existing helicopter routes, emphasizing the safety, cost-effectiveness, and environmental friendliness of its eVTOL solution.

Addressing urban mobility challenges, Nolen highlighted the zero-emission and sustainable nature of the Midnight. With noise levels approximately 100 times lower than conventional helicopters, Archer envisions a neighbor-friendly transportation solution that aligns with the evolving landscape of smart cities.

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