Germany's Lilium Calls Test of 'Flying Taxi' Prototype Successful

Above Lilium Landing Pad

Lilium has made its first successful flight of its Lilium Jet which is an electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) vehicle.

Once airborne, the flaps gradually tilt into a horizontal position, providing forward thrust.

This was only a test flight and Lilium still has much work to do before it can offer this as a service. "We can now turn our focus to designing the five seater production aircraft".

According to Lilium, its air taxi will be "jet-powered", though this means it uses 36 ducted fans run by electric motors rather than using gas turbines.

The aircraft's engines are individually shielded, so the failure of a single unit can not affect adjacent engines.

Lilium's 100-percent renewable electric power is its key defining trait; plenty of others are looking at VTOL tech, but many, including DARPA, are using a hybrid fuel approach to work around some of the design and performance challenges of relying exclusively on electric.

In addition, Lilium says that the motor nacelles are individually shielded to prevent one failure affecting the others, that the power cells are created to allow for continued flight and a safe landing if the battery conks out, and the company's Flight Envelope Protection System is created to reject a pilot's commands if they would pose a safety risk.

The Lilium Jet takes off and lands vertically, like a helicopter, but uses wingpower once in the air to travel quietly and efficiently.

In terms of safety, Lilium's Flight Envelope Protection System prevents the pilot from doing anything which would take the aircraft beyond safe-flight parameters.

Brain-child of four engineers and doctoral students from the Technical University of Munich, Lilium is an all-electric VTOL jet that is powered by rechargeable batteries and a retractable landing gear that make it possible for it to take-off without requiring a large runway. Google co-founder and Alphabet CEO Larry Page launched two startups working on VTOL electric aircraft.

With Lilium's latest accomplishment, the field is starting to get interesting.

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