Lilium GmbH is a Germany-based start-up co-founded in 2015 by four aerospace engineers and product designers — Daniel Wiegand, Sebastian Born, Patrick Nathen and Matthias Meiner — all from the Technical University of Munich (Wessling is a municipality located near Munich, Germany).
The Dragon is an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) ⅕ subscale prototype which was 3D printed, including its ducted fans. Using 3D printing was very useful to engineers because the prototype can be quickly made and flight tested. This was the first Lilium prototype which demonstrated a seamless transition from vertical to forward flight and back again.
In the front of the aircraft were two ducted fans, one on each side of the front of the fuselage. In the rear of the aircraft was a wing with four ducted fans. In the rear, each wing had one large flap and had two ducted electric fans mounted on each the flap. There were a grand total of six ducted electric fans on the Lilium Dragon technology demonstrator. For the aircraft to fly vertically, the entire flap on the wing had to move down to allow the fans to be in a vertical position for VTOL flight. The aircraft was uncrewed, remotely controlled, was painted white and had four fixed landing legs.
When we designed the Lilium Jet we looked at more than 20 existing aircraft concepts but soon realized that none of them would deliver what we wanted. We were searching for levels of efficiency that were close to the limits of physics, delivered in the most simple way.
So instead of tweaking an existing design, we chose to design something from scratch. The result is the Lilium Jet which has no tail, no rudder, no oil circuits, no gearboxes, no variable pitch fan blades and only one moving part in the engines.
Our philosophy has always been that simplicity is key: it makes the aircraft more robust, it makes it safer, it makes it easier to maintain and it lowers the cost to certify, manufacture and operate the aircraft.
— Lilium blog article, May 15, 2019
Lilium plans to both manufacture the Lilium Jet and operate the Lilium Jet as a point-to-point on-demand regional air taxi service where its passengers would be flying within an urban area, within rural areas, from urban to rural areas or from city to city, and increase your Radius of Life - the area in which we our day-to-day life. Lilium states with their aerial ride-sharing operations, a person can increase their Radius of Life by a factor of 25 with on-demand air transportation.
The company has stated that the Lilium Jet will not be for sale to the consumer, this was decided early on when the company was formed. 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. As of October 2019, Lilium employs more than 350 people, are now hiring more than 150 people and are expected to hire up to 500 new people between now and 2025.
- Aircraft type: eVTOL subscale prototype
- Piloting: Remote
- Capacity: 0
- Cruise speed: Unknown
- Range: Unknown
- Estimated payload: 91 kg (200 lb)
- Propellers: 6 ducted fans
- Electric Motors: 6 electric motors
- Power source: Batteries
- Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
- Wing: One rear wing. Each wing had a large flap and on each flap a pair of ducted fans were mounted. For VTOL flight, the flap on the wing moved in the down position.
- Landing gear: Fixed landing legs
- Safety Features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft.