Published on May 21st, 2019 | by Nicolas Zart0
Lilium Reveals Long-Awaited New Air Taxi & Celebrates Maiden Flight In The Same Swoop
May 21st, 2019 by Nicolas Zart
Lilium is still aiming to sell the world’s first all-electric jet-powered 5-seat air taxi or electric vertical take-off & landing (eVTOL) vehicle.
The Lilium eVTOL Jet Is A Go!
The Lilium Jet specs are honorable, with a 300 km (186 mile) range that can be covered in under 60 minutes. Of course, the electric urban air mobility (UAM) startup claims to do all this with zero operating emissions.
Lilium says it is just about ready to manufacture and operate the Lilium Jet and offer on-demand air taxi service around the world. But before this happens, the UAM startup revealed a new 5-seat electric air taxi prototype. The eVTOL aircraft had its maiden flight earlier this month.
The Lilium Jet has no tail, no rudder, no propellers, no gearbox, and only a single moving part in the electric motors. And this full-scale, full-weight prototype powered by 36 electric motors is demonstrating the safety and potential affordability of eVTOL aircraft. Lilium is also working on the ergonomic and interior feel of the aircraft for “magical customer experience in the cabin, from panoramic windows to gull-wing doors.”
According to Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and CEO:
“Today we are taking another huge step towards making urban air mobility a reality. In less than two years we have been able to design, build and successfully fly an aircraft that will serve as our template for mass production. Moving from two to five seats was always our ambition as it enables us to open up the skies to many more travelers. Whether its friends or families flying together or business travelers ride-sharing into the city, having five seats delivers an economy of scale you just can’t achieve with two. The Lilium Jet itself is beautiful and we were thrilled to see it take to the skies for the first time. With the perfect balance of range and speed, our aircraft has the potential to positively impact the way people choose to live and travel, all over the world.
“We dream of a world where anyone can fly wherever they want, whenever they want. We’ve invested a tremendous amount of thought and care into designing an aircraft and a service that will let us deliver this, meeting society’s demands for urban air travel that is quiet, safe and environ-mentally positive. Getting to this point has meant tackling some of aerospace’s greatest challenges, but now we’re here we can focus on bringing our vision to life and connecting communities in ways they have never been connected before. Whether it’s reducing the need for investment in ground-based infrastructure like road or rail, or opening up new areas to economic opportunities, we believe that urban air mobility has the potential to be a remarkable force for good in society and we look forward to working across our sector to achieve this.”
The Lilium Jet’s top speed will reach 300 km/h (186 mph).
To Fix or Not To Fix Wings, That Is The Question — Just Not For The Lilium Jet eVTOL
Anyone observing the wild design world of eVTOL aircraft will agree that there are enough UAM design strategies to cover many UAM market segments, even if they don’t exist yet. For instance, should an eVTOL have fixed wings or retractable ones? It depends mostly on where, how, and how far the aircraft will travel. Fixed wings are good for longer trips and retractables are practical with the potential of landing almost anywhere.
Lilium’s fixed-wing design means the Lilium Jet make use of the wings for lift. Lilium estimates the aircraft will use up to 10% of its maximum 2000 hp (1,492 kW) during cruising operation. This gives it the efficiency of a ground electric vehicle (EV) covering the same distance. This is how Lilium plans on connecting suburbs to city centers to airports to main train stations — as a high-speed connection network across entire regions. Think of it as Europe’s intercity trains, but much faster.
Leandro Bigarella, Head of Flight Test, said:
“While a maiden flight is always a moment of truth for a business, the Lilium Jet performed exactly as expected and responded well to our inputs. Our flight test program will now continue with increasingly complex maneuvers as we look towards our next big goal of achieving transition flight, which is when the aircraft moves seamlessly from vertical to horizontal flight.”
Lilium says the user experience will be as easy as pushing of a button. Passengers will choose a destination on Lilium’s app from their nearest landing pad. Lilium sees a network of pads across cities and regions where passengers can hop on for the same price as a taxi, but 4× faster.
Lilium Jet eVTOL Dreaming, But When?
Lilium wants to be fully operational around the world by 2025 and will start trial services much sooner. In the meantime, it is continuing to test its latest 5-seat Lilium Jet for even more rigorous flight test campaigns to demonstrate a wider range of its capabilities.