Lilium air taxi makes maiden test flight

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German air taxi developer Lilium has revealed more details about its five-seater all-electric vertical take-off and landing after the aircraft successfully completed its first test flight.

The Lilium Jet’s first flight took place on May 4, 2019, after a period of extensive ground testing at Lilium’s headquarters in Munich, Germany. The prototype aircraft was controlled remotely from the ground.

The company has already run a series of flight tests with a two-seater prototype in 2017 to prove the aircraft’s design, and in particular to show that the transition from vertical to horizontal flight works. The latest five-seater prototype is now undergoing flight testing to assess its range of capabilities before its planned certification and operation in 2025, although trial services will start earlier than this in several locations.

The full-scale, full-weight prototype is powered by 36 all-electric jet engines. The aircraft has no tail, no rudder, no propellers, no gearbox and only one moving part in the engine instead maneuvering is achieved by directing a series of ducted fans set into 12 flaps that move to transition it from vertical to horizontal flight. More information on how the aircraft works can be found here.

The aircraft  has a top speed of 300km/h (186mph) and a range of 300km (186 miles) according to the company.

Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and CEO of Lilium said, “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.

Leandro Bigarella, head of flight test at Lilium 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.”

“Moving from two to five seats was always our ambition as it enables us to open up the skies to many more travelers, having five seats delivers an economy of scale you just can’t achieve with two. 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.”

Lilium plans to both manufacture and then operate the Lilium Jet as an on-demand air taxi service accessible to customers using a smartphone app. Last year the company went on a recruiting spree, adding to its roster of senior management executives from companies such as Airbus and Audi as its development, certification and production efforts ramp up.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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