Five-seater, all-electric and jet-powered air taxi makes maiden flight

Key Points
  • The way we move around our towns and cities is undergoing a radical change.
  • Lilium's full-scale prototype can take-off and land vertically and is powered by 36 all-electric jet engines.
  • The aircraft can travel up to 300 kilometers in one hour, according to the company, and completed its maiden flight earlier this month. 
Lilium

A German start-up has unveiled a five-seater, all-electric air taxi prototype. In an announcement Thursday, Munich-based Lilium said that its jet-powered air taxi had completed its maiden flight earlier this month.

The full-scale prototype, which can take-off and land vertically, is powered by 36 all-electric jet engines and can travel up to 300 kilometers in one hour, according to the company.

The aircraft does not have a tail, rudder, propellers or gearbox. In terms of its environmental impact, Lilium said it had "zero operating emissions."

The jet flew for the first time on May 4. The prototype, which is remotely controlled by an operator on the ground, is now undertaking a series of flight tests.

The plan is to eventually offer an on-demand air taxi service, with consumers using an app to find their nearest "landing pad" and then book their trip.

In 2017, the start-up completed flight testing for a two-seater prototype. "In less than two years we have been able to design, build and successfully fly an aircraft that will serve as our template for mass production," Daniel Wiegand, Lilium's co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

"Moving from two to five seats was always our ambition as it enables us to open up the skies to many more travelers," he added.

The way we move around our towns and cities is undergoing a radical change. In October 2018, Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority announced trials for what it described as the region's first autonomous taxi.

In the field of aerial taxis, Uber plans to launch a "shared air transportation" service for urban areas in 2023. The company is working with partners to launch small, electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft in Dallas and Los Angeles.