The Electric Jet’s Maiden Flight
I was impressed when two years ago I visited the Boeing Aircraft Museum in Seattle. When looking at the models of aircraft involved during WWII, it was interesting to note the higher number of different types of German aircraft compared to the British, US and Japanese. The German aircraft came in all shapes and sizes, technologically they were way ahead of everyone else.
Well, the Germans have done it again. Last year Lilium Aviation secured a €10 million investment from Atomico, an important global venture capital firm based in London. The Germany-based start-up founded in 2015 by four budding aerospace engineers and product designers is developing the Lilium Jet, an electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
Lilium finally announced that their full-scale prototype had its maiden flight and they released some impressive footage of the achievement.
The prototype is a two-seater and it managed to execute “a range of complex maneuvers, including its signature mid-air transition from hover mode to wing-borne forward flight.”
Lilium co-founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand said:
Seeing the Lilium Jet take to the sky and performing sophisticated maneuvers with apparent ease is testament to the skill and perseverance of our amazing team. We have solved some of the toughest engineering challenges in aviation to get to this point. The successful test flight programme shows that our ground-breaking technical design works exactly as we envisioned. We can now turn our focus to designing the five seater production aircraft.
The company claims that the Lilium Jet can achieve a range of “more than 300 km (186 miles) with a maximum cruising speed of 300 km/h.(186 mph).
With current air travel, a lot of time and energy are dedicated to getting passengers to the airport and to the aircraft gaining altitude and later descending. VTOL aircraft will allow passengers to save a significant amount of time in those parts of air travel, and electric propulsion has the potential to reduce fuel and maintenance costs and to open air transport to more people and more services.
Lilium says that once in flight, the efficiency of its prototype is comparable to an electric car.
Here’s the Lilium jet in bulletpoints:
- The Lilium Jet is a lightweight aircraft powered by 36 electric jet engines mounted to its wings via 12 moveable flaps.
- It is unique in combining the benefits of VTOL offered by helicopters and drones, with the speed and range of a jet aircraft.
- At take-off, the Lilium Jet’s flaps are pointed downwards to provide vertical lift.
- Once airborne, the flaps gradually tilt into a horizontal position, providing forward thrust.
- When the wing flaps are horizontal, all of the lift required to keep the Lilium Jet in the air is provided by air passing over the wings – just like a conventional jet.
- Safety is of primary concern of Lilium, and the Jet is designed along the principle of Ultra Redundancy:
- The aircraft’s engines are individually shielded, so the failure of a single unit cannot affect adjacent engines.
- The Lilium Jet’s power cells are designed to continue delivering enough power for continued flight and a safe landing in the unlikely event that part of the battery configuration fails.
- Lilium’s Flight Envelope Protection System prevents the pilot from performing maneuvers that would take the aircraft beyond safe flight parameters.
Lilium Jet have realized that the market for a two-seater aircraft is very limited and therefore planning a 5-seater version of the jet in order to create an on-demand air taxi service.
Due to the low-cost of operation, Lilium Jet actually plans to cover routes generally made by cars – but at least 5x faster. They give the example of a flight from Manhattan to New York’s JFK Airport in about 5 minutes, compared to 55 minutes by car.
Lilium Jet haven’t announced any projected certification date, but do have a team of over 40 engineers working on bringing the aircraft to production.
They will have some competition from the Americans, lead by Google co-founder and Alphabet CEO Larry Page who has already launched two companies working on electric aircraft.
Having the money to fund the jet’s development and brining it to market is key but so is having a good team to make sure the aircraft performs. One of the key investors into the project is Niklas Zennström, current CEO and Founding Partner at Atomico. He is an experienced entrepreneur, having previously co-founded and managed globally successful technology companies including Skype, Kazaa, Joost and Joltid.
Daniel Wiegand, Sebastian Born and Patrick Nathan met at Munich’s TUM Technical University. Together they started Lilium in 2015. During his studies of aerospace engineering at the Technical University of Munich Wiegand ranked amongst the best. His first patent was filed when he was still in high school. He has won multiple awards, including “Jugend forscht”, Germany’s most recognized tech competition. Daniel graduated the master’s’ program with a focus on flight propulsion systems. As a project manager at ABB in Zurich, he has gained in-depth experience in managing complex projects as well as insights in business development. Flying has always been his passion: already at the age of 14, he started soaring and became a pilot before being allowed to drive a car.
Quite frankly the aviation industry really does need this kind of innovation. I can already see this as the beggining of the end of oil driven jets and the dawn of a new era of clean energy, powering people through the sky with fast jets. With a combination of the right investors and a great technical team, I reckon Lilium Jet is set-up for success and I am sure we will see supersonic and hypersonic electric jets too…
Fabrizio Poli is Managing Partner of Aircraft Trading Company Tyrus Wings. He is also an accomplished Airline Transport Pilot having flown both private Jets and for the airlines. Fabrizio is also a bestselling author and inspirational speaker & has been featured on Russia Today (RT), TRT World, Social Media Examiner, Bloomberg, Channel 5, Chicago Tribune, Daily Telegraph, City Wealth Magazine, Billionaire.com, Wealth X, Financial Times, El Financiero and many other Media offering insight on the aviation world. Fabrizio is also regularly featured as an Aviation Analyst on Russia Today (RT) and TRT World. Fabrizio is also aviation special correspondent for luxury magazine, Most Fabullous Magazine. Fabrizio is also considered one of the world’s top 30 experts in using Linkedin for business. You can tune in weekly to Fabrizio’s business Podcast Living Outside the Cube available both in video & audio. You can also follow Fabrizio’s aviation videos on Tyrus Wings TV. Fabrizio’s latest book “Health4Flyers“, the first natural-health book for pilots, flights attendants and frequent flyers is now available worldwide.http://pluginfuture.com/the-electric-jets-maiden-flight/http://pluginfuture.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/lilium-jet-flying-1536w-1024x576.jpghttp://pluginfuture.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/lilium-jet-flying-1536w-150x150.jpgVIP StoriesI was impressed when two years ago I visited the Boeing Aircraft Museum in Seattle. When looking at the models of aircraft involved during WWII, it was interesting to note the higher number of different types of German aircraft compared to the British, US and Japanese. The German aircraft...Fabrizio PoliFabrizio Politest@fabrizio.testVipPlug-in Future