Air taxi startup Lilium just achieved horizontal flight after a vertical takeoff

The company aims to start production this year to fly its eVTOL in 2024.
Can Emir
Lilium Jet.
Lilium Jet.


German air taxi start-up Lilium claims that its Phoenix 2 eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft technology demonstration made its first complete transition between vertical and horizontal operations during a test flight on September 23 at the Atlas center in Spain.

The transition was completed during a wing-borne flight on the company's main and canard wings at speeds of about 100 kt (190 kph), according to a letter to shareholders reporting on second-quarter results.

The company intends to add a second technology demonstration to the flight-test program as it gets ready to begin construction on the first seven-passenger vehicle in 2023 and will start flying it in 2024.

Lilium claimed that subject to further testing by unbiased laboratories, recent battery-aging performance studies have demonstrated that the company will be able to reach its target of 800+ cycles with 80 percent capacity retention on each set of batteries.

Phoenix 3 will soon join its sister aircraft, which has been flying at the Atlas facility since the spring, as a further uncrewed test asset.

Air taxi startup Lilium just achieved horizontal flight after a vertical takeoff
Lilium Jet

The success of production range and payload capacities of Lilium Jet will depend on the cells that Zenlabs/Customcells provided. According to Lilium, prior internal testing verified the battery's performance.

According to a corporate presentation, a typical flight for the six-passenger Lilium Jet would cover 94nm (175km) at the maximum take-off weight of 7,000lb (3,175kg).

It will only have 30 fans

The Lilium Jet, which will eventually go into production, will only have 30 fans, compared to the Phoenix 2's 36 electric-powered ducted fans. Uncertainty surrounds the Phoenix 3 demonstrator's fan configuration, which might be either 30 or 36.

Klaus Roewe, the new CEO of Lilium, announced in a letter to shareholders during the second quarter that the company now has preliminary sales agreements for 483 aircraft and anticipates signing solid contracts with pre-delivery payments due in 2023. The business also said that it has begun accepting deposits for the executive "limited edition" version of the Lilium Jet that it has begun selling in conjunction with private aviation operator NetJets.

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To establish a final agreement regarding the certification program, including the methods of compliance (equivalent to the G-2 level of the FAA), Lilium stated that it is still working with European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). In addition, it is getting ready to examine the design organization approval process carried out in the first half of 2023 by the European aviation safety agency. The current goal for type certification is 2025.

By the end of September, Lilium had submitted 69 patent applications, 42 of which had been made public by the European Patent Office. The business is submitting supplemental applications for these patents in China and the United States.

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