As electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) prototypes pace ahead in their development, there is also a need to develop the infrastructure that will support these flights and help us save hours in total travel time. With its modular design, eVTOL maker, Lilium, has now forayed into the building vertiports that will work with its Lilium jet, a press release said.
Co-founded by four engineers in 2015, Lilium is working on an eVTOL concept that can ferry five passengers at speeds of 175 mph (280kph) but at a price that's competitive to road and rail transport. More importantly, the company's Lilium jet is not only carbon neutral but is also is designed to make lesser noise with its ducted fan technology. Its fifth-generation prototype flew in 2019.
Brimming with confidence regarding its prototype and design, the company has now set its eyes on the infrastructure necessary for its Lilium jets and is offering a modular design that can be rapidly deployed in existing airports, open parking lots, or even retrofitted on top of existing buildings. Additionally, the modular components can be pre-fabricated to reduce on-site construction time.
As explained on its website, Lilium has identified three key areas needed for a vertiport. A Final Approach and Take-off (FATO) area (A), a parking stand (B), and the passenger terminal (C). Like conventional heliports, FATO will see the eVTOL arrive and depart and will follow the regulatory guidelines that are eventually proposed for eVTOL.
The parking area is where the eVTOL will be charged prior to its next flight but also serve as an area for passenger and cargo movement. Lilium is looking to stripping off the frills of conventional airports like duty-free shops and retail shops and install systems that make passenger movement seamless and stoppage-free to save time.
To bring this concept to reality, the company has now partnered with Ferrovial, a two-decade-old infrastructure company with the experience of handling Heathrow airport in London as well as 33 other airports in the U.S., Chile, and Australia, the press release said.
Together the two entities plan to develop 10 vertiports in the state of Florida ensuring that its 20 million residents will live within 30 minutes of their vertiport. After all these years, the 'flying cars' are finally coming to a destination near you.