German startup Lilium aims to provide on-demand “air taxi” service. The world’s first all-electric vertical take-off and landing passenger jet have been unveiled after completing its first flight.
It is not the first time a Lilium Jet company’s all-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) device has taken to the sky, but it is the first time the new five-seater has taken off and landed, following extensive ground testing. Lilium has published a video of a two-seater version’s inaugural flight just over two years ago.
The flying taxi will have a 300-kilometer (186-mile) range, allowing it to link New York and Boston. A short hop between John F Kennedy International Airport and Manhattan will cost about $70 per passenger, making it cheaper than a helicopter and competitive with top-end limousine services, Chief Commercial Officer (COO) Remo Gerber said in an interview.
The new five-seater is a full-scale, full-weight prototype that is powered by 36 all-electric jet engines to allow it to take-off and land vertically while achieving “remarkably efficient horizontal or cruise flight,” says Lilium.
In a call, Lilium co-founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand described the test flight, which was a little behind schedule, as a massive step towards making urban air mobility a reality. The new jet performed in the sky as the company’s models and ground testing had predicted, providing much-needed validation for the Lilium team.
The craft is powered by 36 jet engines that swivel after take-off to provide forward flight in the manner of a standard plane, using only 10 percent of the energy of multi-rotor drones based on helicopter technology. Lilium isn’t the only company with designs for flying taxis – there are more than 100 different electric aircraft programs in development worldwide.