FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen Set to Join eVTOL Startup Archer Aviation

FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen Set to Join eVTOL Startup Archer Aviation

According to Reuters, FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen is expected to join electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) startup Archer Aviation in the coming weeks. Nolen, who has served as the interim leader of the agency for over a year, announced his departure last month. While Archer and the FAA have not confirmed the news, sources cited by Reuters suggest Nolen's move to the startup.

Notably, Nolen's departure notice included a hint about the future of eVTOLs, stating that he believes these aircraft will be certified in a matter of years rather than decades. This aligns with the advancements and changes being witnessed in the aerospace industry.

Nolen's announcement follows the withdrawal of Phil Washington, the White House nominee for the FAA post, after facing challenges during his nomination hearing. The concerns raised by some senators included his limited aviation experience and a corruption scandal during his time as head of public transit in Los Angeles. In the interim, Reuters reports that Katie Thomson, the current chief of staff, may temporarily assume Nolen's role while the nomination process restarts.

Meanwhile, Archer Aviation is progressing with its eVTOL development. The company has a conforming prototype undergoing ground tests and anticipates conducting flight tests in the next few weeks. Archer has secured investments from United Airlines and automaker Stellantis and plans to establish a factory in Covington, Georgia, next year. The company aims to produce 2,300 aircraft per year, named Midnight, which can accommodate four passengers and a pilot. The Midnight is designed for flights ranging from 20 to 50 miles, with a maximum range of 100 miles.
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