The Lilium Jet is the first “electric jet” VTOL aircraft. The company plans to use the jet for urban mobility as an air taxi. In cruise mode power consumption per km is comparable to an electric car. It produces zero emissions in flight.
Lilium was co-founded in 2015 by Daniel Wiegand, Sebastian Born, Patrick Nathen and Matthias Meiner. Wiegand originally conceived of the basic concept in 2013. The first half-scale demonstrator, “Falcon,” was flown in 2015. Wessling is a municipality located near Munich, Germany.
The two-seat “Eagle” prototype completed a series of unmanned test flights in April 2017. It had a total of 36 electric fans: 12 on the upper surface of each wing with tilting flaps and two rows of three fans on each side of the canard, which was designed to be retracted in cruise flight.
Prior to Eagle, the team had flown a series of subscale aircraft, and also studied a design where the wings would fold forward, allowing the aircraft to be driven as a car and recharge overnight from a standard 240 V electrical outlet.
Following the successful test flights of Eagle, Lillium moved forward with a five-seat version. The canard will not be retractable. It will be easily piloted (requiring a Sport Pilots License) and Lilium’s Flight Envelope Protection System will prevent a pilot from performing maneuvers that would exceed the aircraft’s flight parameters. Each engine is individually shielded so the failure of a single unit cannot affect the adjacent engines. First flight of the fully functional jet is planned for 2019.
On May 16, 2019, Lilium revealed they had announced its first flight of an untethered and unmanned 5-seater Lilium Jet which took place on May 4, 2019 at the Special Airport Oberpfaffenhofen airport in Munich, Germany. Extensive ground testing took place before its maiden flight. The full-scale prototype is powered by 36 all-electric jet engines which allows for a vertical take-off and landing with an efficient horizontal flight. As of May 2019, Lilium employs more than 300 people.
The simplicity of the aircraft design, with no tail, no rudder, no propellers, no gearbox and only one moving part in the engine not only contributes to the safety and affordability of the aircraft, but it has also allowed the design team to focus their efforts on creating a magical customer experience in the cabin, from panoramic windows to gull-wing doors.
With a top speed of 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour) and a range of 300 km (186 miles), the Lilium Jet is capable of completing much longer journeys than the majority of its competitors. This is, in part, thanks to the fixed-wing design of the aircraft. While drone-based aircraft consume much of their energy keeping an aircraft in the air, the Lilium Jet can rely on the lift generated by the fixed-wing to do this, meaning it will require less than 10 percent of its maximum 2,000 horsepower during cruise flight.
Lilium plans to manufacture and operate the Lilium Jet as part of a revolutionary on-demand air taxi service. Lilium expects to be fully-operational in various cities around the world by 2025, although trial services will start earlier than this in several locations.
In the first three years, the company brought together a team of top managers, designers and engineers with backgrounds from world-renowned companies including Airbus, Gett, Tesla and McLaren. The workforce has grown to 200 employees from over 15 different countries and is still expanding (as of mid-2018).
The company received some initial funding from the Technical University of Munich, the European Space Agency (ESA), European Union and Atomico, founded by Niklas Zennström, the co-founder of Skype.
The company announced in Sep. 2017 that it had completed its Series B funding round with raised $90M, with financial backing by investor groups including Tencent; LGT, the international private banking and asset management group; Lilium’s Series A backer, Atomico; and Obvious Ventures, whose co-founder Ev Williams is Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO. The investment brings the company’s total capital raised to more than $100 million. Freigeist (formerly e42) were Lilium’s seed investors.
Lilium Jet “Eagle” Characteristics (updated April 2017)
|Fuselage length||not available|
|Overall height||not available|
|Tip-to-tip distance||not available|
|Empty weight||970 lb||440 kg|
|Max gross takeoff wt||1,410 lb||640 kg|
|Useful load||440 lb||200 kg|
|Cruise speed||160 kt||300 km/h|
|Propulsors||36 ducted fans|
|Motor output||not available|
|First Flight (unmanned)||April 2017|
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- Press release: Lilium celebrates successful flight tests of world’s first electric VTOL jet, April 20, 2017
- Lilium Blog: Introducing the future of transport, Lilium, September 19, 2016
- Article: Lilium reveals new air taxi as it celebrates maiden flight, Vertical Magazine, May 16, 2019
- Article: Air Mobility Bonanza Beckons Electric VTOL Developers, Vertiflite, March 1, 2017
- Article: The Demand for On-Demand Mobility, Vertiflite, Jan. 1, 2017
- Article: German Ultralight VTOL Innovations, Vertiflite, Sep. 1, 2016
- Video: The Lilium Jet five seater all-electric air taxi, Lilium, May 15, 2019