German Startup Unveils Air Taxi

Lilium followed up a two-seat prototype with a five-seat design intended to serve as a template for mass production and realistic urban air travel.

The developer of a two-seat flying car recently tested a larger prototype that company officials hope will finally help realize the potential of urban air mobility.

Lilium famously pioneered a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and took it for a debut flight in 2017. This month, the company, founded by engineers from the Technical University of Munich, unveiled a five-seat aircraft and showed footage of it briefly lifting off and touching back down.

Eventually, the company intends for the design’s 36 all-electric engines to allow it, once airborne, to cruise at a top speed of 185 miles per hour at a range of about that same distance.

Lilium officials said a fixed-wing design enables the aircraft to travel horizontally without using much energy — unlike drone-like designs that need to generate more lift.

The air taxi is controlled remotely from the ground and features a simple design without a tail, rudder, propellers or gearbox. It includes just one moving part in the engine and offers passengers panoramic windows and gull-wing doors.

Lilium hopes that, once certified and moved into mass production, users will be able to use a mobile app to find a nearby landing pad, then travel across a city or region at a comparable price to a conventional taxi.

The company expects to begin trials in several locations with a goal of operating in cities around the world by 2025.

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