Maiden flight of CFRP air taxi
LILIUM (Munich, Germany) has revealed its new all-electric, five-seater air taxi prototype, the Lilium Jet, which completed its maiden flight in the skies over Germany earlier this year.
The structure of the Lilium Jet is nearly all carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP), the company says, a key component of the ultra-lightweight design. The full-scale, full-weight prototype is powered by 36 all-electric jet engines that reportedly enable it to take off and land vertically, while achieving efficient horizontal, or cruise, flight. The simple aircraft design — no tail, no rudder, no propellers, no gearbox and only one moving part in the engine — is said to contribute to the safety and affordability of the aircraft while also enabling the team to add aesthetic elements such as panoramic windows and gull-wing doors.
The aircraft reportedly can achieve a maximum speed of 300km/h and a range of 300km. Its endurance is said to be due in part to an efficient, fixed wing design that generates enough lift to keep it in the air during cruise flight while using less than 10% of the aircraft’s 2000 horsepower. The aircraft is said to be an affordable, high-speed commuter option for connecting suburbs to city centers, airports to main train stations and travel between regions.
The Lilium Jet’s first flight took place on 4 May, after ground testing at the company’s headquarters in Munich, Germany. The prototype aircraft, which is controlled remotely from the ground, has since begun a flight test campaign to prove its capability and lay the foundations for certification of the aircraft to safety standards comparable to those of large commercial aircraft.
Lilium plans to manufacture and operate the Lilium Jet as part of its on-demand air taxi service. Lilium says carbon fibre composites have been in mind from the beginning and it is now planning for large-scale industrialisation of its manufacturing processes. Passengers will be able to use the Lilium app to locate their nearest landing pad and plan their journey, and a network of taxi pads will be available across cities and regions. The aircraft is said to be comparable in price to a taxi but is four times faster.
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.
The latest five-seater taxi builds on the successful flight testing of a two-seater prototype in 2017. The two-seater prototype provided proof of concept for Lilium’s signature transition flight maneuver, where the aircraft shifts from vertical to horizontal flight, and laid the groundwork for today’s prototype.