Lilium jet completes first flight tests
A new prototype eVTOL aircraft built by Lilium has completed its first phase of flight testing.
The Lilium jet has proven it can undertake complex manoeuvres and reach speeds exceeding 100km/hr in regular tests, undertaken since May, at an airfield in Germany.
The five-seater aircraft is set to be available for commercial airborne taxi services in 2025 to offer a new solution to regional and urban air mobility. The jet was unmanned, fitted with test equipment and controlled from the ground.
The next phase of flight tests will take place over the next 9-12 months and involve completing more manoeuvres at higher speeds up to the 300km/hr maximum as well as the company conducting more stringent safety tests that include more system failures and adding beyond line-of-sight control.
A spokesperson for Lilium said more prototypes for the next phases are to be built, including variants with a cabin for manned flight that will prove the aircraft’s capabilities and secure certification. The number of prototypes will depend on the progress of the next phase of testing but the spokesperson does not anticipate any major changes to the aircraft.
The Lilium jet uses existing battery and motor technology and uses 36 separate electrically powered motors that are managed individually by the control system. This allows for a smoother transition from vertical lift to horizontal flight and provides redundancy.
Lilium plans to manufacture and operate the aircraft itself, which involves expanding its production facilities and developing its own airline business.
The company has expanded into a 3,000sq metre facility and is also building another factory to provide the space to build the next prototypes, manufacture critical parts of the aircraft itself, and also to meet future requirements for scale production. Peak production could see an expected rate of hundreds of aircraft per year, according to the spokesperson.
Lilium is backed by venture capitalists and had raised $100 million by the end of 2017 for its prototyping and test phases although further funding will be required to get the company to market entry.
The spokesperson said that the company has been ‘overwhelmed with interest’ from cities and regions to discuss a launch site for the jet.
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