Lilium is a startup in the air field born in 2016 with great ambitions and the plans of a 5-seater electric jet capable of taking off vertically: 3 years after its birth, the milestone is closer and closer with the first flight of a full-size prototype.
Born from a business incubator of the European Space Agency, the German Lilium has one of the possible clean and silent answers to urban congestion problems: these aircraft can form the backbone of a fleet of urban air taxis that can be booked from smartphones with an app and are totally autonomous.
The Lilium jet can adopt the same solutions as a system based on car sharing: thanks to its characteristics it can land and take off in very small points scattered everywhere in the city and suburbs, covering urban or extra-urban journeys that would take an hour in just 5 minutes.
With a special retractable engine used for landings, fly-by-the-wire controls and as many as 36 small jet engines, the Lilium can take off in tight spaces with the ease of a hovercraft and then switch to a "horizontal" flight at 300km per hour. for a range of 300 kilometers: how to say from Naples to Rome in just over 30 minutes.
With a first prototype from 2017, Lilium showed a two-seater aircraft that attracted curiosity and investments for about 90 million euros: today the prototype in its final configuration flies remotely driven taking off and landing to perfection.
The company plans to deploy its air taxi fleets by 2025, with a cost per trip (I'm skeptical here) comparable to that of a current rubber taxi.
"I dream of a world in which anyone can fly anywhere and however they want," says Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and CEO of Lilium. "We have invested a huge amount of economic and mental energy to design an aircraft that allows it, and ours is safe, quiet and sustainable for the environment."