Electric jet makes maiden flight

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The battery-power electric jet can travel up to 300km in just 60 minutes, with zero operating emissions. Munich-based Lilium will manufacture and operate the jet as part of an on-demand air taxi service.

A full-scale, full-weight prototype has 36 all-electric jet engines that allow it to take-off and land vertically with the efficient horizontal cruise flight. There is no tail, rudder, propellers or gearbox and only one moving part in the engine. This contributes to the safety and affordability of the aircraft. The engines generate up to 2000 HP from a 320kW battery pak built from several thousand Lithium-Ion cells. The pack is designed to fully contain a thermal runaway of several cells while still delivering enough power to the propulsion system.

“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,” said Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and CEO. “Moving from two to five seats was always our ambition as it enables us to open up the skies to many more travelers. Whether it’s 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 prototype aircraft is controlled remotely from the ground and has now started a series of flight tests to lay the foundations for certification of the aircraft to safety standards.

“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,” said Leandro Bigarella, Head of Flight Test.

Next: Electric jet taxi plans

Lilium expects to be fully-operational in various cities around the world by 2025, although trial services will start earlier than this in several locations via an app.

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