Imagine flying from Paris to London in an hour or from Manhattan to JFK Airport in six minutes without the hassle of traffic, noise, or emissions. This is the vision of Lilium, a German company that is developing the first all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) jet. The Lilium Jet is a sleek, five-seater aircraft that can fly up to 300 km/h and 300 km on a single charge. It can take off and land vertically, like a helicopter, but fly like a plane, with minimal noise and emissions.
Lilium is not the only company working on eVTOLs, but it claims to have some unique advantages over its competitors. The Lilium Jet has 36 electric jet engines integrated into the wing flaps, which provide thrust vector control to maneuver the aircraft through every phase of flight. This design allows for higher payload, aerodynamic efficiency, and lower noise profile than conventional propellers or ducted fans. The Lilium Jet also has a spacious cabin with panoramic windows and gull-wing doors, offering passengers a comfortable and luxurious experience.
Lilium aims to create a new urban and regional mobility mode that is faster, cheaper, and more convenient than existing options. The company plans to launch its own air taxi service, starting with hubs in Munich and Orlando. Customers will be able to book flights on demand via an app similar to Uber or Lyft and access vertiports located near major destinations. Lilium estimates that a flight from Manhattan to JFK airport would take only six minutes and cost $70, compared to 60 minutes and $200 by car.
Lilium also aims to expand its network to cover more cities and regions worldwide, connecting people and places currently underserved by traditional transportation. For example, a flight from Paris to London would take only one hour and cost $250, compared to three hours and $400 by train. Lilium believes that its service will save travelers time and money and reduce congestion, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions on the ground.
To achieve its ambitious vision, Lilium faces many technical and regulatory challenges. The company has been testing its prototype since 2019, but it still needs to complete the certification process with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before it can operate commercially. Lilium has received the EASA G-1 Certification Basis in 2020 and the FAA G-1 Certification Basis in 2023, making it the only eVTOL manufacturer with both approvals for a powered lift eVTOL aircraft. However, these are only the first steps of a long and complex journey that involves rigorous testing, validation, and verification of safety and performance standards.
Lilium also needs to secure enough funding, partnerships, and infrastructure to scale up its operations and service. The company has raised over $830 million from investors such as Tencent, Atomico, Baillie Gifford, LGT Group, and Palantir Technologies. It has also announced strategic collaborations with companies such as GKN Aerospace for electrical wiring systems, Lufthansa Aviation Training for pilot training programs, Ferrovial for vertiport development and operation, Tavistock Development Company for Orlando hub development, Qell Acquisition Corp for public listing via SPAC merger, and others. Lilium hopes that these alliances will help it overcome some of the barriers and risks associated with entering a new and emerging market.
The Lilium Jet is one of the most promising and innovative projects in the eVTOL industry, which is expected to grow rapidly in the next decade. According to a report by Roland Berger, the global eVTOL market could reach $90 billion by 2035, with more than 160 eVTOL models under development by various companies. Lilium has a clear vision of how it wants to transform mobility with its electric jet technology. Still, it faces fierce competition from other players such as Joby Aviation, Volocopter, EHang, Archer Aviation, Vertical Aerospace, Airbus and Wisk Aero. Whether Lilium can succeed in its mission depends on how well it executes its strategy and delivers its value proposition to customers.
The Lilium Jet is more than just a flying car or a drone. It is a potential game-changer for transportation that could redefine how we travel very soon.
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