All the fuss around foldable phones and tablets and even self-driving cars may have taken the attention away from the other holy grail of transportation. Lilium, a Munich-based startup, however, is trying to get the spotlight back on that stage, by having successfully tested the latest all-electric air taxi of the future. It was the most recent in a series of successful tests for the nascent electric flight industry, which aims to have “flying cars” whizzing above cities within the next decade.
Compared to the other preproduction electric aircraft currently out there, the Lilium Jet certainly stands out: it has an egg-shaped cabin perched on landing gear with a pair of parallel, asymmetrical tilt-rotor wings. The wings are fitted with a total of 36 electric jet engines that tilt up for vertical takeoff and then shift forward for horizontal flight. There is no tail, rudder, propellers, or gearbox. When it’s complete, the Lilium Jet will have a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles) and a top speed of 300 km/hour (186 mph), the company says. That’s much farther than many of its competitors are predicting of their electric aircraft.
The startup is in the process of securing certification for the five-seat air taxi from the European Aviation Safety Agency, and it will also seek an application with the US Federal Aviation Administration. The state-of-the-art aircraft is expected to hit the skies in multiple cities by 2025.