Aircraft

Lilium's full-sized electric jet flies for the first time

Lilium's full-sized electric j...
The Lilium Jet five-seat aircraft on its maiden flight
The Lilium Jet five-seat aircraft on its maiden flight
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The Lilium Jet five-seat aircraft on its maiden flight
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The Lilium Jet five-seat aircraft on its maiden flight
The Lilium Jet five-seat aircraft on the launchpad ahead of its maiden flight
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The Lilium Jet five-seat aircraft on the launchpad ahead of its maiden flight
The Lilium Jet five-seat aircraft lifts off for the first time
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The Lilium Jet five-seat aircraft lifts off for the first time
The Lilium team tinkers with its five-seater electric jet
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The Lilium team tinkers with its five-seater electric jet
The Lilium Jet is capable of taking off vertically in confined spaces
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The Lilium Jet is capable of taking off vertically in confined spaces
 Rather than the 55 minutes it takes to travel from JFK Airport to Manhattan by car, the Lilium Jet could theoretically deliver passengers in five minutes
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 Rather than the 55 minutes it takes to travel from JFK Airport to Manhattan by car, the Lilium Jet could theoretically deliver passengers in five minutes
Lilium first emerged in 2016 as an aviation startup with some very lofty ambitions
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Lilium first emerged in 2016 as an aviation startup with some very lofty ambitions
Lilium first emerged in 2016 as an aviation startup with some very lofty ambitions
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Lilium first emerged in 2016 as an aviation startup with some very lofty ambitions
Lilium hopes its air taxis will be servicing cities around the world by 2025
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Lilium hopes its air taxis will be servicing cities around the world by 2025

Lilium first emerged in 2016 as an aviation startup with some very lofty ambitions, revealing plans to develop a five-seat electric aircraft that can take off vertically, switch to horizontal flight in mid-air and cover some sizable distances on each charge. The company has now taken a significant step toward achieving this goal, completing a flight of a full-scale prototype of its Lilium Jet for the very first time.

Germany-based Lilium sprung out of a business incubator at the European Space Agency (ESA) with the aim of developing a clean and quiet answer to the prickly problem of urban congestion. While there is obviously no one single solution to this, Lilium's approach was to chip away at the problem with an all-electric flying taxi that can be hailed through a smartphone app.

The aircraft would come down and land on pads stationed around cities and regions, and whisk passengers away to their destination, or close to it, without adding to a city's pollution, noise and traffic on the ground. Rather than the 55 minutes it takes to travel from JFK Airport to Manhattan by car, the Lilium Jet could theoretically deliver passengers in five minutes. Or traveling from New York to Boston in one hour, is another possibility.

The Lilium Jet is capable of taking off vertically in confined spaces
The Lilium Jet is capable of taking off vertically in confined spaces

With retractable landing gear, fly-by-the-wire controls and a grand total of 36 electric jet engines, the Lilium Jet is capable of taking off vertically in confined spaces by directing the airflow downwards. It can then shift these flaps to direct airflow over the wings to propel the aircraft forward horizontally. In this state, the jet will apparently be able to travel at 300 km/h (186 mph) and cover 300 km (186 mi) without needing to recharge.

In April of 2017, Lilium managed to demonstrate this mid-air transition maneuver, from hovering to forward flight, with a two-seater prototype. Later that year it gathered US$90 million in funding to move ahead with the development of the five-seater prototype, and has today revealed the fruits of that labor. The reveal follows the full-sized Lilium Jet's maiden flight earlier this month, where the aircraft was controlled remotely from the ground to lift off and hover above its landing area.

The Lilium Jet five-seat aircraft lifts off for the first time
The Lilium Jet five-seat aircraft lifts off for the first time

"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," says Daniel Wiegand, Lilium co-founder and CEO. "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 hopes its air taxis will be servicing cities around the world by 2025, where the cost per trip would be comparable to that of a traditional taxi cab. It does, however, plan to kick off trials earlier than that and, despite its optimism, how air traffic regulators will accommodate these plans is an unknown.

"We dream of a world where anyone can fly wherever they want, whenever they want," says Wiegand. "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 environmentally positive."

The video below shows the full-sized Lilium Jet take off for the first time.

Source: Lilium

The Lilium Jet five seater all-electric air taxi

29 comments
Kalavo
Here we go.. everyone hug eachother now yaaayyy...🙄🙄
Roger Garrett
It's NOT A JET !!! Pretty amazing that they can do all that engineering and not s single participant points out to them that what they've built is not a jet. You cannot power a jet engine with electricity. The very definition of jet engine REQUIRES combustion. This is just a while bunch of ducted fans.
Deres
Vertical flight and transition to horizontal flight is not new at all. It is in fact very well down by helicopters that can be lectric if you wish. Thus, the real issue are : noise, cost (thus efficiency) and safety. It seems the safety is assured by mutiple jets but is it sufficient ? Does the plane has multiple independent controling systems and electric circuits ? Fopr the noise, it must be proved it is less noisy than an helicopter. I had that the flight test will be a nightmare when they will have to do a specific test for the failure of each jet and the combination failure of 2 or 3 ... I also want to see the test against birds as they will surely destroy several contiguous motors at the same time. I also feel that the aerodynamic especially when one motor is at idle may be quite complex.
Bob Stuart
Very clever, claiming to reduce noise on the ground by producing more noise in the air. "Jet" may not always require combustion in technical language, but it does imply inefficient, noisy exit velocities.
Martin Winlow
Roger, It's the Jet (with a capital 'J'). Does Ford's Mustang have a swishy tail and go 'nay'. Nay. So, why should Lilliums Jet be a jet?
Martin Winlow
Surely it can't have been *that* much of a surprise to all gathered that the thing left the ground?!
guzmanchinky
How interesting. But how is it better than the other designs out there using fewer ducted fans? Is it quieter maybe? Or more reliable? Or faster? Or have better range/power? And if this is such a step in the direction of future air mobility, why isn't Airbus or Boeing (or Cessna, or Pilatus, or Cirrus, or Sikorsky), who arguably have bigger budgets/engineering expertise going for it? Not naysaying here, just genuinely curious...
notarichman
what is the taxi fare from JFK to Manhattan? $40? i've never been there. however, i can imagine some rich folks paying $200 for the flight and being disappointed that they can't because there are only 4 of these electric "jets" available. oh, and the fare would be $200 per person. these aircraft would sell for how much? $200,000? that's about 250 trips to pay for the aircraft plus how many more to pay for the pilot's wages, repairs, battery charging, airport expenses, advertising, rental services, internet fees, etc. i'll just guess at 1000 trips. by that time they will have to have a new aircraft.
CarolynFarstrider
I’m mystified by how EVERYONE can fly. The sky would be full of metal and glass fibre flying objects, regardless of how they are powered..... or am I missing something?
Colt12
Interesting as it is now, whenever a new power source is invented equaling more range it will be a real winner.