California startup, Archer, is celebrating the Holidays with a successful test run of their 2-seater demonstration electric jet, Maker.
The trial commenced on December 16th and consisted of a liftoff, hover in place, and safe landing. To the average reader, this may not sound like much. However, when considering that the jet is currently navigating relatively unchartered territories, their demonstration hoover is rather impressive.
Maker was designed for short-distance travel, with speeds reaching up to 150mph and a 75kWh battery reaching a range of 60 miles, perfect for a quick trip, work commute, or even a taxi. In addition, the jet was built with safety in mind and has even recently been granted the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) certificate of worthiness.
The jet includes:
- Four flight control computers
- Sensors to measure height above ground
- A high-energy battery that promises fast charging and an extended life cycle
- Electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) technology that reduces the need for runways
Maker also promises a dBa (noise decibels) of 45, an impressively low number compared to the standard commercial jet at 140dBa. For reference of just how low of noise this is, a pianist playing piano at an average speed and tone clocks in at roughly 60-70dB.
Not only does a reduction of noise pollution positively benefit the surrounding environment, but it is also better for humans. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a dBa of 140 is their "loudest recommended exposure WITH hearing protection" for human ears. Even with protection and short exposure, OSHA states that there is still a high risk for hearing loss. Clocking in at only 45dBa means that the Maker should not pose a risk to the human ears and most likely won't even require noise cancellation gear.
This aspect is a perfect example of tapping into the social part of sustainability rather than just the environmental one.
To top it all off, Archer's website states that the Maker emits zero emissions, a genuinely noteworthy advancement.
With the victory of the Maker's hoover demonstration, Archer expects the coming year to bring even more refinement, advancements, and success.
Adam Goldstein, Archer co-founder and co-CEO, says, "With our first hover flight now completed, we're one major step closer to that goal and have proven that Archer can work at a fast pace without sacrificing safety or quality. Our team stands ready to continue that pace as we work toward launching an aerial ridesharing service in late 2024."
By 2023, the company also expects to begin testing a similar 4-seater aircraft.
An Industry Shift
Archer isn't the first company to manufacture an electric aircraft. Over the past decade, there has been an uptick in an electric introduction to the industry. In 2015, an electric propulsion aircraft created by Airbus and Siemens flew across the English Channel. Additionally, companies as notable as NASA, Boeing, and JetBlue have either invested in or created their own concept of an electric plane. Examples such as these showcase just how much effort and money is going into decarbonizing the transport industry, from ground to sky.
The world of air travel has changed substantially in the past century, from more powerful engines to relaxing social etiquette. Moreover, the industry has seen an added layer for change in the past decade as the desire for sustainable alternatives increases.
Within the realm of 2 and 4-seater aircraft, the market, customer, and environmental specs differ from the more common commercial jet sector. Though they may not have as large of an ecological footprint due to their smaller size, these crafts encourage private ownership and, therefore, significantly increase an individual's environmental footprint. A good comparison could be a passenger vehicle vs. a public bus. Even though the bus may have a larger overall footprint, it effectively allows for group transport and therefore lowers each individual footprint compared to personal vehicles.
Some of the negative environmental impacts resulting from small jets include air pollution, waste, marine pollution, habitat loss, and noise pollution.
Archer's jet aims to mitigate these impacts and provide an alternative option to those who might already be looking at purchasing a traditional 2-seater plane. As it is a newer advancement still in the works, odds are the price will cater to the upper class. That said, with time, advancements, interest, and research, prices could see a drop that could make the jets more affordable to a broader range of customers. Archer's long-term goal is to drop the price to that of ridesharing and eventually on par with the cost of owning a car.
Further, Archer's advancement in this field could help to catapult the entire aviation industry to a feature of electric flying. Their concept could be adapted toward cargo flights or scaled up (with due time) for larger passenger flights. The opportunities are truly limitless as long as there is a will, funding, and researchers.