The Munich-based start-up Lilium has announced a successful start to its Lilium jet concept - the first completely electric-powered aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capability. A YouTube video shows the small unmanned aircraft on its maiden flight at an airfield close to Munich.
The four young Lilium founders and their 40-strong group of comrades have built the current two-seater mainly for demonstration purposes. It can cover a distance of 300 km and reach a top speed of 300 km/h. The aircraft, which is made mainly out of carbon fiber, has 36 propellers, 12 on each of the two rear wings and six on each of the front wings. It has a redundant design, meaning that the jet can stay safely airborne even if one or two engines fail. As the propellers are pivotable, the electric jet can take off and land vertically (VTOL - vertical take-off and landing).
However, Lilium would like to build and sell a larger model for five passengers. According to company reports, work on this has already begun. The e-jet is aimed primarily at commuters; costs per flight should not be higher than a corresponding taxi ride: According to Lilium, the minimal space required for take-off and landing should mean reasonable prices even though trips will be five times faster than by car.
Experts doubt, however, that such air taxis will ever get flight clearance in Germany.