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Working with the FAA: Archer’s Path to Certification

September 7, 2021 - Archer continues to make significant progress towards its goal of bringing an electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (eVTOL) to market and launching an urban air mobility (UAM) network, but revolutionizing transportation takes time and there is still more hard work to be done.  

Type certification of aircraft is how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) manages safety risk for aircraft. It is a rigorous process between the FAA and an applicant that is intended to provide the public with confidence that a new aircraft will meet the FAA’s safety expectations. Before Archer can operationalize its eVTOL aircraft, we must obtain four separate FAA certifications: type, production, airworthiness and operational. We’ve assembled an experienced team to lead us through the FAA certification process. 

Flight In The Family

Leading Archer’s certification team is Eric Wright, who previously led certification at Piper Aircraft for nine years and, before that, worked directly for the FAA. Owning the responsibility for certification for a new market segment of aviation is no small task, but Wright is up to the challenge and his credentials speak for themselves: he was the first person in the world to certify and operationally approve a fully autonomous emergency landing system through the FAA. He’s an expert at navigating uncharted regulatory territory - and in case you were wondering about his last name, he is in fact a relative of the Wright brothers (we’re not kidding).

When Are We Aiming to Take Flight?

In June 2021, we unveiled Maker, our two-seater demonstrator aircraft to assist us on our path to certification. We expect Maker to begin ground and early flight testing before the end of this year.

“Our Maker aircraft is a stepping stone in the path to certification,” says Wright, describing Maker as a “testbed” for Archer’s flight control systems, electric propulsion technologies and the critical components that will be part of the FAA-certified Archer passenger aircraft. 

While Maker is slightly smaller than the planned four-seater commercial eVTOL, the two aircraft share many common safety elements. Our goal with flying Maker while going through the FAA certification process for our commercial eVTOL, is that we can build the FAA’s confidence in our ultimate design and eliminate obstacles which we might have otherwise encountered without it.

Where Does The Certification Process Currently Stand?

Archer started its path to FAA certification in early 2020. Our project was accepted by the FAA intake board and we’ve been working closely with the FAA as we move through the certification process. Today we announced that the FAA has approved and signed our G-1 Issue Paper, enabling Archer to move further down the runway towards our goal of obtaining FAA Type Certification. The G-1 Certification Basis is based on the FAA's certification standards contained in 14 CFR Part 23.  With Part 23 as the foundation, the G-1 Certification Basis sets forth the airworthiness and environmental standards that the aircraft must meet to receive a FAA Type Certificate.

What’s Ahead?

While the G-1 Issue Paper is a significant milestone in our path to certification, certification projects are implemented in a multiple step design approval process. With these requirements now established, Archer can focus on finalizing its G-2 Issue Paper with the FAA, which will set forth in detail how it will comply with the certification requirements contained in the G-1 Issue Paper. Archer has been working on the means of compliance (MoC) for the G-2 Issue Paper with the FAA since earlier this year, as well as the necessary testing and methods required to demonstrate safety and compliance of our aircraft.

Once the MoC steps are complete, the design is evaluated and measured to the certification requirements during the implementation phase. A Type Certificate is only issued after a design is determined to be in compliance with all applicable airworthiness, noise and emissions standards. 

Soon after the Type Certificate is awarded, we must also obtain our production, airworthiness and operational certificates. Since its inception, Archer has focused on ensuring that its design, engineering and business decisions align with what is necessary to design and develop an aircraft that meets the FAA's rigorous safety standards and achieve the required FAA certifications as soon as possible. Our progress to date results from a collaborative relationship Archer has established with the FAA. As we continue our work with the FAA we remain focused on our ultimate goal: to move people throughout the world's cities in a quick, safe, sustainable, and cost-effective manner.