Lilium's full-sized electric jet flies for the first time

  • Lilium's full-sized electric jet flies for the first time

Lilium's full-sized electric jet flies for the first time

Using an app to order an air taxi that won't break the bank is one test flight closer to being realised.

German startup Lilium hopes that by 2025, it will let you do just that, after staging a successful maiden flight of a prototype five-seater flying taxi, capable of whisking passengers from place to place above the congested streets.

But Lillium could face skies crowded with competition. Companies such as Uber, Airbus, Rolls-Royce Holdings (the aircraft engine manufacturer, not the luxury vehicle brand owned by Germany's BMW) and Volocopter already are developing them.

The startup wants its jet to have some rather lofty capabilities once it's ready for prime time, including a top speed of over 180 miles per hour and a range of almost 200 miles.

Both Airbus and Boeing's models have a range of up to 50 miles.

A full-scale, full-weight prototype made its debut flight from Lilium's base near Munich on May 4 and has commenced flight tests, the company said on Thursday (May 16).

In Texas, the chief executive of LIFT Aircraft says his start-up's electric-powered vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft, the Hexa, plans to begin offering 15-minute flights across a lake outside Austin this year for $249 a pop.

The five-seater jet follows on the heels of the firm's two-seater prototype, which successfully flew in 2017.

Head of flight testing Leandro Bigarella said: 'While a maiden flight is always a moment of truth for a business, the jet performed exactly as expected and responded well'.

In a statement posted online, Daniel Wiegand, Lilium's co-founder and CEO, called the aircraft a significant stop towards "urban air mobility" and noted that having five seats could open it up to ride-sharing or business travelers arriving in a city, presumably from a nearby airport. It has raised around $100m from investors.

But the US-based Aerospace Industries Association predicted in March that with future artificial intelligence at the controls, the aircraft "will be a part of everyday commutes" by 2050.