Founded by entrepreneurs in 2015, Lilium is looking to combine the efficiency of an electric car with the vertical takeoff capabilities of a helicopter, and the handling, speed, and convenience of a personal jet. The company feels combining all of these technologies could present an interesting transportation solution for urban areas that continue to grow more and more crowded.
Using fans embedded in the wings, the five-passenger aircraft can hover, land, or take-off from a set position, similar to a quadcopter drone or, on a much larger scale, the Marine’s tiltrotor Osprey.
The aircraft’s body houses 12 flaps, each of which house three electric engines. At take-off, all of the flaps are vertical in creating lift. Once airborne, the flaps are moved to a horizontal position, and the fans fold back into the wings so the jet can accelerate. It offers a seating compartment similar to a mid-sized car and will feature a top speed of nearly 190 MPH.
The electric engines work just like a traditional turbofan jet engine except that instead of being powered by a gas turbine, they’re run by a high-performance electric motor that is, according to the company, cleaner, quieter, and generates less vibration than their non-electric counterparts. The electric charge lasts about an hour, and the Lilium jet can reportedly still perform a vertical landing with the loss of multiple engines.
The company sees the jet being used similar to Uber or hailing a cab, with rooftop pads that allow for take-offs and landings away from city traffic. So far, the company has raised more than $90 million in funding. It already has a working prototype and hopes to have its first manned flight by the end of 2019, with commercial availability by 2025.