A number of young startups are building on the idea of air taxis, which are trying to create light aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing, in addition to being powered by electric propulsion, referred to as eVTOL. Among the companies that develop them is the Munich startup Lilium, which not only has a fully functional prototype aircraft but has recently revealed its plans to build a transportation hub in Orlando, Florida.
The company has now announced a 7-Seater Lilium Jet, an electric vertical takeoff and landing jet that can revolutionize regional travel, saving people hours, not minutes. It also plans to have a commercial operation up and running by 2024.
The Lilium 7-Seater Jet has a projected cruise speed of 175 mph (280 km/h) at 10,000 feet and a range of 155+ miles (250+ km), including reserves. The aircraft is powered by a series of small electric jet engines integrated into the vehicle’s wing flaps. According to the company, the design allows for a lower noise profile, as well as advantages in payload and aerodynamic efficiency.
The 7-Seater Lilium Jet will be Lilium’s first aircraft to go into serial production. Lilium’s aircraft will have 30x fewer components than a commercial airliner and is designed for ease of manufacturability and scalability. Lilium applies automotive-style design for manufacturing methods and is designing for fully automated, high-quality production of its engines, actuators, and batteries.
To meet their goal for commercial operation by 2024, the startup also announced a partnership with San Francisco-based Qell Acquisition Corp., a publicly listed special purpose acquisition company (Nasdaq: QELL). Qell, led by Barry Engle, a former president of General Motors North America, is focused on developing next-generation, sustainable mobility. The merger is expected to be valued at around $3.3 billion and a $10 per share PIPE price.
The combined company is expected to receive approximately $830 million of gross proceeds from a fully committed common stock PIPE offering of $450 million, along with approximately $380 million cash held in trust, assuming minimal redemptions of Qell’s existing public stockholders.
The proceeds from the transaction are intended to fund the launch of commercial operations planned for 2024. This includes the finalization of serial production facilities in Germany, the launch of serial production aircraft, and the completion of type certification.
Lilium applied for concurrent type certification for a high-capacity aircraft with EASA and the FAA in 2018. Development of the 7-Seater Lilium Jet began in stealth mode following this milestone. In 2020. the 7-Seater Lilium Jet received a CRI-A01 certification basis from EASA.
During its first 2024 commercial flight, Lilium wants to start offering its services in Florida and other parts of the world, for example. At that time, according to current plans, another eVTOL startup Volocopter, should be operating in two years now, which recently made an investment of 5.2 billion crowns and already last year began offering tickets for its first flights.