The world’s first all-electric vertical takeoff and landing passenger jet has been unveiled after completing its first flight over the skies of Germany.
Lilium, which has built a five-seater jet-powered flying car, flew an unmanned test flight of its vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) system earlier this month.
The Lilium jet has 36 engines that allow it to take off vertically, and has a maximum top speed of 185mph and a range of 185 miles.
The company aims to have a fleet of the five-seat aircraft - which can operate with a pilot or in drone mode - flying in cities worldwide by 2025, providing a pay-per-ride service that will be emission-free, five times faster than a car and produce less noise than a motorbike.
According to executives, its flying taxi would let users whizz from London to Manchester in less than an hour. The company is also designing an on-demand app, similar to Uber, that would let passengers book a taxi from a local landing strip or purpose-built landing pad, to fly them on short haul trips.
“We have been working on this test for the last 20 months,” said Remo Gerber, chief commercial officer at Lilium. “Just on the take off and landing. What will come next is a test flight programme that will put it through its paces to get certified.”
Lilium said it had built the new aircraft in under two years, having grown its team from just 30 people in 2017 to more than 300 following an injection of $90m (£70m) from investing giants such as China’s Tencent and venture capital firm Atomico.
The aircraft has jet engines powered entirely by electricity, and is designed with no tail, rudder or gearbox. The flying taxi would initially be flown by a pilot, but the company has plans to implement autonomous flights.
For now, the five-seater version of its aircraft has yet to transfer from vertical takeoff to horizontal flight. It also has a two-seater passenger aircraft that it has tested.
Lilium head of test flights Leandro Bigarella said: “Our flight test program will now continue with increasingly complex maneuvers as we look towards our next big goal of achieving transition flight, which is when the aircraft moves seamlessly from vertical to horizontal flight.”
The test flight took place on May 4 near the company’s headquarters in Munich.
It is not the only company racing to launch a flying taxi. Uber has promised it will launch a fleet of air taxis in a pilot project in Dallas and Los Angeles by 2023. Boeing, meanwhile, is also building its own electric flying taxi aircraft.