German air taxi startup Lilium has completed its first phase of testing, with its five-seater 36-rotor electric prototype hitting speeds of 100 km/h (62 mph). The company has also completed its first manufacturing facility and has brought on a veteran aerospace executive to oversee its flight program. Lilium says it remains “on track” to launch passenger operations in several locations around the world by 2025.
The last we heard from Lilium was in May of this year, when its unpiloted prototype finished its first test flight — basically taking off, hovering for a few seconds, and then landing. The new footage released today shows the aircraft transitioning from vertical flight to level flight, which is a key maneuver for so-called electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Lilium called the transition from vertical takeoff to forward flight “one of aerospace’s greatest challenges.”
Lilium’s jet certainly stands out among the current crop of “flying car” startups: it has an egg-shaped cabin perched on landing gear with a pair of parallel tilt-rotor wings. The wings are fitted with a total of 36 electric jet engines that tilt up for vertical takeoff and then shift forward for horizontal flight. There is no tail, rudder, propellers, or gearbox. The cabin can seat five passengers.
When it’s complete, the Lilium Jet will have a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles) and a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), the company says. Lilium says this puts it ahead of its competitors and allows it to fly between regions rather than just short hops within cities.
The release of the footage arrived as the company also celebrated the completion of its first manufacturing facility. The 3,000-square-meter space is located at the company’s Munich headquarters, and it will soon be complemented by a second larger facility, which is already under construction at the same site. Combined, they will support Lilium’s aim of producing hundreds of aircraft a year by the time commercial services begin in 2025.
Lilium also announced the hiring of Airbus veteran Yves Yemsi as chief program officer. Yemsi worked as head of program quality for the highly successful Airbus A350 aircraft.
Meanwhile, the company is actively raising cash, with TechCrunch recently reporting the startup was looking to pull in $400-500 million. It’s a staggering amount for an urban air mobility company like Lilium, and would far exceed the $55 million raised by fellow German air taxi startup Volocopter.