Found in 2015 and located in Gilching, Germany, Lilium Aviation is a new aeronautical company with the aim at launching the world’s first electric flying machine as a new form of travel. Known as the Lilium Jet, it is the world’s first electric vertical take-off and landing jet. You can begin your journey from anywhere and travel at top speed of 400 km/h over a 500 km range. This jet was meant for local to moderate distance travel but does not yet have the capability to travel across the ocean. The creators of the aircraft are German engineers Patrik Naten, Matisse Miner, Sebastian Born and Daniel Wiegand. These designers and engineers are from the Technical University of Munich and have receive funding from the ESA and European Union to continue work on this incredible project.
Changing the Industry
Flying with private jets could be changed forever with the world’s first electric aircraft that can land and take-off vertically without the need for a lengthy runway. Shaped like an egg and named Lilium, the aim of the aircraft is for environmental protection alongside avoidance of landing at the airport. The engineers are seeking to make this a plane that could be used on a daily basis to go to the grocery store or bring your child to his baseball game.
The focus on the plane with the ability to take off and land vertically does not need an expensive infrastructure that is commonly found at airports. Instead, the vehicle can be produced affordably and reduce noise and pollution, through the use of electric motors, so that it can fly and land in populated urban areas. The electric plan is expected to launch in 2018 but, at the moment, there is no price tag associated to the purchase.
In order to acquire a license, pilots must pass 20 hours of training or else the aircraft will fall into the sport aircraft category. At the moment, the plane was designed to fly during the daytime light with excellent weather conditions.
In Europe, flying the vehicle would require clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which needs to grant permission on any landing site within the continent. At the moment, you will not be able to take off from your front yard but the neighborhood helipad would be a possibility. It is likely that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States and other groups around the world would implement similar restrictions.
At the moment, the Lilium Jet claimed a cruising distance of 500 km’s using a single charge. In addition to being environmentally-friendly, the plan was designed to be significantly more comfortable. The European Space Agency (ESA) noted that while the planes will initially take off from airports, the end goal is to be able to fly and land anywhere, even in the backyard. Being touted as the most advanced personal aircraft ever developed, the Lilium boasts a super compact design and allows for lift-off and landing from any 50-foot square flat area.
On-board the aircraft is a computer-assisted piloting system that is covered in the 20-hour training course. The maximum altitude would be 3 km’s in uncongested airspace. Also, the aircraft will only be limited to 600 kg’s of on-board weight. Once airborne, the Jet swivels its engines into a rear-facing position in order to propel it forward, similar to an existing fixed-wing aircraft.
To date, the company claims that it has flown and prove out the concept with several 25 kg scale prototypes. All of this technology means that society is approaching that of the Jetsons. In the future, the Lilium Jet could reasonably be parked in your driveway.
The Race for the Sky
Elegance, speed, sustainability and comfort are the primary goals for this vehicle. In addition to the Lilium Jet, there are other startups who are competing with the company to be first-to-market in the flying vehicle marketplace including AeroMobil, PAL-V Terrafugia and Moller International. These companies are all vying for spots in production, selling and delivering the vehicles within the next few years. Many of these companies are attempting to commercialize their products by 2017 which is expected to be the turning point in the industry.
Terrafugia, inventors of the “Transition” flying car, is expecting to start production in 2017. They have already accepted deposits from over 100 customers. AeroMobil, based out of Slovakia, is planning to finalize its design and start accepting deposits for production in 2017. Netherlands-based company, PAL-V started taking orders for its aircraft and is expecting deliveries to begin during the spring of 2017. Moller International, based out of California, started accepting deposits and has mentioned that they could start selling the vehicles as early as 2017. Of course this is dependent on the United States FAA granting the required regulatory permissions.
All of the organizations on this list have sky high hopes for the future of personal air travel. However, there are numerous roadblocks that could prevent them from reaching their goals. One of the greatest being that there are few laws and regulations in-place yet for these types of vehicles. Many of these companies have predicted starting selling their vehicles by now but have had to delay the launch multiple times. Prior to receiving the go-ahead for sales, the vehicles must pass extensive testing to prove that they are ready to fly. Acquiring the endless amount of required road, aviation and transportation certifications can take a long time.
As much as we would like to this to be similar to the Jetsons, the Lilium Jet will still require a vertiport (similar to a helipad) to take off since they create a large amount of wind for a residential area. In the future, there could be a variety of vertiports on top of buildings, in sectioned off residential areas, in parking lots and other open spaces to allow the driver to go from one point to another in designated areas. This is a major advancement in personal travel technology that most certainly will be gaming changing once these companies are able to get around the red tape and prove out their product.