Latest tweets from Lilium

Lilium

The world’s first electric vertical take-⁠off and landing jet.

Sector: Futuretravel
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Lilium is a disruptive aviation start-up based in Munich, founded in 2015. It is currently delivering on its vision of a completely new type of individual transportation and is dedicated to develop and build the world’s first fully electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) jet. An estimated range of up to 300 km and a top speed of 300 km/h, along with zero emissions make it the most efficient and eco-friendly individual means of transportation of our time. By providing ultra-redundancy, the Lilium Jet will also set new standards in safety. It aims at liberating towns and cities from today’s congestion and pollution, with people able to come and go freely, vastly expanding the radius of their everyday lives.

Lilium wants to change the way we travel. By developing a new type of hybrid aircraft, one that has vertical take-off and landing capability as well as a fixed wing for fast flight, it hopes to make real the possibility of a electric plane that can travel at speeds of up to 300kph over a range of 300km – all on a single charge.

This is no flight of fancy, either – founded in 2015, Lilium conducted test flights of its two-seater full-scale prototype last year. The company estimates its jet to be up to 90 per cent more efficient than competitors, allowing it to deliver an affordable, on-demand air transport service to cities around the world.

But now that Lilium has a working prototype, founders Daniel Wiegand, Patrick Nathen, Matthias Meiner and Sebastian Born have recruited Frank Stephenson, a car designer, to accelerate their prototype into production. Stephenson has a great background, beginning his career at Ford, working on the Escort RS Cosworth. After this he joined BMW to design the first X5. Then he became design director at Ferrari and Maserati, before taking on the same role at Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo. In 2008, he went to McLaren where he remained until last year.

Stephenson is the man tasked with fashioning the final look, and feel (going on what he has planned for the jet’s futuristic interior) of the production version of the first Lilium jet. He’s got some interesting ideas, such as gel-filled seats that mould to your shape when you sit, and an augmented reality canopy, where passengers can see information on the view around them as well as flight stats and other information. We chatted with him just before he started full time at Lilium this month.

At the moment it is a prototype. It’s not finalised for production. It works well because of the technology where they do a transition from vertical to horizontal flight. That transition is the really hard thing to do. But the technology behind having the electric motors along the trailing edge of the wing, and lots of them, is the way they’re doing it. So, they’re not pure drones, or helicopters, or fixed wing aircraft, they’re a combination. I wouldn’t even say that the aerodynamics are finalised. The looks definitely can be optimised.

The trick is to make the aircraft have the same “wow factor”, the same visual impact, as the technology behind it. Not only that, the interior is going to be amazing because there you have a lot more freedom. For example, on exteriors you’re tied into aerodynamics, but on the interior you’re basically an interior designer converting the space into something that’s pretty much optimised for the enjoyment that you should have going from A to B.

The team are currently working to a timeline for launch of 2025. But it could be sooner. Competitors like Aeromobil and Pipistrel are essentially flying drones, which don’t have the advantage of a fixed wing, so you’re losing a lot of efficiency. The vehicles that sprout wings and take off like a plane, they need runways and landing areas that are much too big. “You might as well fly a plane”, says Stephensen. “For me, that’s the reason why I’m so excited about Lilium because I can’t think of a better way to do it, to get vertical take-off and landing, and vertical flight combined with horizontal flight all together in one aircraft.”

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