German Startup Unveils Electric 'Flying Taxi' Prototype

German Startup Unveils Electric 'Flying Taxi' Prototype
German startup Lilium has unveiled a new "flying taxi" that can vertically take off and be the basis for an on-demand air service within six years. The Guardian reports: The electric jet-powered five-seater aircraft is designed to travel up to 300km, a journey that would take it an hour at top speed. While a smaller version of its novel plane flew in 2017, Lilium said that the maiden flight of a full-scale prototype earlier this month -- a brief, remote-controlled test hover in Munich -- was a "huge step." The firm, which has attracted more than $100 million in investment since its founding in 2015, has set a target of offering Uber-style, app-based air taxis in multiple cities by 2025.

The latest iteration, with room for a pilot and four passengers, will be the template for Lilium's mass production model. With sufficient economy of scale, Lilium believes fares would be around $70 per head for a cross-city hop from, for example, JFK airport to Manhattan. According to Lilium, the relatively simple design, beyond the 36 electric jet engines needed for vertical take-off and landing, make it more safe and affordable than other planes. Once in the air, the power needed in cruise is little more than that of an electric car, Lilium says. The fixed wing design gives a longer range than competitors with drone-based aircraft, which consume much more energy keeping airborne. Lilium will now seek certification for its new plane through rigorous flight testing, the next landmark being to move the jet seamlessly from vertical to horizontal flight.





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