Ferrovial, a global leading infrastructure operator, and Lilium, the aviation company developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) jet aircraft and service, have signed a framework agreement to develop a network of at least ten vertiports. The zero-carbon infrastructure and services will cover strategic locations in all major cities across Florida. This partnership seeks to provide an efficient and...
Ferrovial, a global leading infrastructure operator, and Lilium, the aviation company developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) jet aircraft and service, have signed a framework agreement to develop a network of at least ten vertiports. The zero-carbon infrastructure and services will cover strategic locations in all major cities across Florida. This partnership seeks to provide an efficient and environmentally friendly alternative transport network connecting locations across Florida.
Lilium’s full-scale five-seater demonstrator first flew in May 2019 and is a fully electric aircraft that can take-off and land vertically (eVTOL). The Lilium Jet has 36 all-electric ducted fans with acoustic liners, capable of capturing and dissipating noise before it leaves the engine, thus blending into typical urban environments. Lilium expects to service a sizable global market demand by connecting communities at a fraction of the cost of conventional high-speed infrastructure, with zero operating emissions.
Vertiports are a key component in realizing the enormous potential of innovations in eVTOL aviation, providing infrastructure for landing, recharging, and taking off with passengers. According to a recent press release, Ferrovial and Lilium will collaborate in designing and constructing the vertiport facilities as well as the operation and maintenance of the vertiports for passenger service. The first location in South Florida will be announced as soon as Spring 2021.
Commenting on the partnership, Daniel Wiegand, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Lilium said: “Our partnership with Ferrovial to develop flight infrastructure, is a critical step in delivering the potential of regional air mobility to provide high speed, affordable, emissions-free travel to millions of people. As we accelerate our launch plans, Lilium is committed to partnering with industry leaders, bringing together their strengths and experience with our aircraft technology and passenger service infrastructure. We’re excited about what we will achieve together.”
Dr. Remo Gerber, Chief Operating Officer, Lilium continues: “Our strategy to bring high-speed transportation networks to an entire region is being brought to life in Florida, and Ferrovial is the ideal partner with their unrivaled expertise in airport construction and operations around the globe. Nearly all 20 million Floridians will live within 30 minutes of our vertiports and the 140 million annual visitors to the Sunshine State will have a high-speed option available to travel to their destinations.”
Ferrovial has earned a reputation as a leading infrastructure investor and operator, dedicated to developing sustainable solutions throughout the lifecycle of a project with an integrated approach, taking advantage of its business units’ synergies. Ferrovial currently manages $10 billion in assets in the United States. Ferrovial Airports is ready to be a player in the future of vertiports and urban air mobility. Providing passengers with choice and air travel alternatives contributes to the commitment to enhanced and further personalized passenger experience.
Why it’s important: Ultimately, Ferrovial and Lilium share the same goal – establish and grow a nascent urban air mobility ecosystem to deliver an innovative mode of transport that will shorten distances and improve quality of life for citizens. The Lilium Jet’s efficient and ultra-low noise electric jet engines allow it to operate in densely populated urban areas and cover longer distances at high-speed with zero operating emissions. By saving time and enhancing connectivity, the service will drive significant economic growth for cities and increase access to industry, culture, and nature.
Joby, Volocopter And Lilium Are Making A Risky, Expensive Bet On Vertical Integration To Invent Urban Air Mobility
This article, written by Dean Donovan, was originally published on Forbes. Shared on TransportUP with permission. It’s official: Joby Aviation is buying Uber Elevate. The electric air taxi developer will integrate the Uber Elevate team into its core operation; Uber and Joby will expand their partnership to provide a seamless multi-modal experience and share data on how to provide the...
This article, written by Dean Donovan, was originally published on Forbes. Shared on TransportUP with permission.
It’s official: Joby Aviation is buying Uber Elevate. The electric air taxi developer will integrate the Uber Elevate team into its core operation; Uber and Joby will expand their partnership to provide a seamless multi-modal experience and share data on how to provide the right services to customers; and Uber will invest $75 million into Joby, which is on top of its previously undisclosed $50 million investment in Joby’s Series C financing round in January 2020.
This move should support Joby’s strategy of both building a new type of electric aircraft almost entirely in-house as well as operating an airline. Elevate should also give Joby unparalleled competitive and ecosystem intelligence into some of its competitors given that Elevate had engaged Hyundai, Pipistrel, Jaunt Air Mobility, Bell, Signature Flight Support and Chargepoint, among others, as partners in the aerial ride-sharing network that Uber had planned on building. Most industry observers believe that Uber Elevate has built a high-quality group that provides access to arguably the most well-thought through network planning effort in the industry. This could provide benefits in market selection, scale-up and asset utilization of an airline.
Joby is taking a different approach than exists today in most mobility related industries. Over the last few decades, truck and airplane manufacturers have tended to decrease their level of vertical integration to improve capital efficiency and utilize specialized skills developed in the supply chain. Joby is not alone in this break with the recent past. Lilium has also announced plans to forward integrate into air taxi service. Volocopter, the German autonomous aviation company, has launched an air taxi service called Volocity and is aiming to begin operations in Singapore. At the same time, other players in the air mobility space like Jaunt Air Mobility and Bye Aerospace have opted for a leaner, less vertically integrated approach. Will one approach trump the other?
This isn’t going to be cheap
New aircraft programs cost a lot of money to move through certification. On the commercial side of the market, a new narrow-body aircraft could cost $10 billion to $15 billion and can take 10 years or more to bring to market. At the Revolution Aero conference earlier this month, Lee Human of Aerotec, a leading consultancy in this space, suggested that vertically integrated eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) programs would likely require $3 billion to move through certification alone.
Technological innovation creates certification timing and cost risk. eVTOL aircraft will have systems that look fundamentally different than most of today’s small aircraft including, eventually, the provision for autonomous operation. The Eclipse 500, a program that pushed the edge of the technological envelope to pioneer the very light jet (VLJ) category, has become emblematic of the risks of a technology forward approach. The program started in 1998 and only received certification in mid-2006 partially due to a requirement to re-engine the aircraft mid-stream. The first deliveries came in 2007, almost 9 years after the start of the program. The company ultimately ran out of capital due to cost overruns associated with the delays and the 2008 recession.
Setting up a scale commercial carrier will add another layer of capital needs on top of the certification costs of the aircraft. JetBlue raised $128 million to finance its start-up with two planes, and Volaris, now the largest low-cost carrier in Mexico, raised a similar amount to start with four aircraft. However, new commercial operators have the advantage of a well-developed leasing market that allows them to finance new aircraft at attractive prices. They can also slot right into the existing commercial aviation airport infrastructure with limited initial capital investment.
Starting an eVTOL-based air taxi service at a similar scale could cost much more. Given the relatively small capacity of these new eVTOL aircraft (typically four seats or less), to have the same seat capacity as JetBlue or Volaris on start-up one of these new operations might need 70 to 140 aircraft. At $1 million per aircraft that would be $70 million to $140 million in acquisition costs. Given the unknown lifecycle of these new aircraft, financing that via an affordable leasing program seems unlikely. Aircraft acquisition only represents a part of the total expense, which will include start-up expenses, inventory, route development and other overhead costs. In addition, these air taxi services will need to find new investment for charging infrastructure, terminal infrastructure, maintenance facilities etc. Growing the model would require even more capital for aircraft and for developing new routes, which can take 9-12 months to ramp to profitability in commercial aviation.
Put this all together and it may take $4 billion or more to fully develop a vertically integrated business in the UAM space. That business case will come with potentially high variability in terms of timing and cost that investors will need to plan around. Of course, the rewards of pioneering what Morgan Stanley predicts could become a $1.5 trillion market could make those risks more than worthwhile.
Historical Precedents: “We are the Uber of Aviation…”
Elevate ensured that the UAM space lives in a giant shadow cast by the analogy of Uber’s auto ride-sharing model. Uber took a cottage industry, the taxi business, professionalized and modernized it. Ride-sharing models utilized a contract workforce that knows how to drive and brings its own assets. It took the suboptimal taxi user experience and improved it dramatically, while simultaneously reducing the cost of service significantly through smart network management. Not surprisingly, these factors led to the rapid growth of demand and an asset-light business model. It was expensive to build out, but the operating leverage is less than a model that has to buy or finance the assets it took to operate.
Uber tried to build a similar on-demand model for the world of aviation, where it quickly became clear that regulation, labor relations and asset ownership conditions will create a different, less favorable business model. Some companies have attempted ride-sharing style models in aviation and have run afoul of the FAA. Aviation requires a highly skilled workforce that tends to unionize and scales slowly. The low passenger to pilot ratio will create a pilot shortage if the UAM markets scale in a significant way. These potential bottlenecks have led most competitors to set autonomous operation goals to enable scalability and manage costs. Carriers must buy their own assets or lease them, if financing is available, and take responsibility for their operations. As a result, vertically integrated UAM carriers will have asset intensive operations.
While it may seem a departure today, aviation and aerospace were vertically integrated in the era where airmail contracts guaranteed significant volume at set pricing. Boeing purchased aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney in 1929 and had started United Airlines before subsequently growing it via merger. The guaranteed volumes and pricing from airmail contracts limited Boeing’s exposure to the high levels of operating leverage this strategy created. In fact, those guarantees were so lucrative they led to scandal and eventually the Airmail Act of 1934. That law prohibited aircraft manufacturers from owning airlines and forced Boeing to divest United Airlines and to the spin-out of what eventually became United Technologies (including Pratt and Whitney). Although regional aviation receives some Federal money via the Essential Air Service program, these tend to serve poorer rural areas, not the premium services wealthy urban areas the UAM companies plan to target initially. Unlike Boeing in the 1930s, today’s vertical integrators will need to create their own stable, attractively priced demand to cover their operating leverage.
In contrast, Delta started as a company to solve a specific use case — the boll weevil infestation of the early 1920s. The company built aircraft for crop dusting and then built a crop-dusting aviation service to solve the problem. Designing a solution for a completely new use case feels analogous to the challenge that Lilium, Volocopter and Joby face today. Trying to solve the use case end-to-end via a tightly coordinated team could simplify the challenge. In addition, it is not clear that Lilium could find an air taxi airline customer for its UAM aircraft even if it wanted to do so. The carrier models that could buy and operate these aircraft simply don’t exist today, nor would most airlines feel comfortable operating this type of equipment on their own. To quote David Merrill, CEO of Elroy Air, who has considered building his own freight carrier in addition to the development of the company’s Chaparral autonomous cargo aircraft, “our commercial logistics customers understand the enormous value of our autonomous aircraft in expanding express middle-mile capacity, but many don’t want the added complexity of operating it in the early years.” (My firm DiamondStream Partners is an investor in Elroy Air.)
The Benefits And Risks Of Making An All-In Bet
Ultimately, aviation models usually depend on two things for success: directness of routing to save time, and cost to produce the service (of which the biggest driver is asset utilization). The Elevate team combined with the Uber Partnership, can help Joby significantly in both respects. Via its modeling efforts around UAM network optimization Elevate’s insights can help reduce costs by improving asset utilization of the carrier model. Its practical experience with Uber Copter into how to integrate ride-sharing networks into UAM services to create seamless multi-modal experiences should cut time off customer trips. Based on what we know about stimulation of aviation demand, those two value-adds should help grow the market significantly.
Set against those benefits, stand a few substantial risks. Unlike Boeing’s vertical integration strategy of the 1920s and 1930s, new UAM carriers will find it hard to predict volume early on. Cars represent a formidable competitor. They cost about 37 cents a passenger mile at average occupancy — probably a tenth or less of what UAM services will initially cost. Commuters are highly sensitive to transportation costs and a 22-mile commute each way might cost $130/week via car including parking. At $2/mile, which is the cost for an Uber ride-share today, the same commute would cost about $440/week. At $4/mile, a more realistic initial price for UAM services, it would cost closer to $880/week, although it could be lower in the case of someone who works remotely most days. In an environment where increasing numbers of people work from home and congestion eases, the time advantage of a multi-modal trip based on flights may also decline.
In addition, competition from new forms of fixed-wing aircraft could limit UAM volume, particularly in the early years before urban vertiport infrastructure build outs. Fixed-wing airplanes retrofitted with hybrid-electric propulsion systems should become available about the same time as eVTOL aircraft. These fixed-wing planes could transport passengers at lower cost than the initial eVTOL vehicles due to the greater efficiency of fixed-wing flight, the ability to use existing fueling infrastructure, and their larger number of seats. These types of operations could also scale more easily due to the higher passenger to pilot ratio. In commercial aviation, operators that fly smaller, less efficient aircraft often find themselves in the role of developing routes for operators with lower cost, higher capacity planes.
A third concern involves unionization. Given the scale of operations that UAM businesses plan to develop, this industry will most likely have unions that look more like the unions in the regional aviation or the commercial aviation industry than the less unionized charter industry. Pilots unions tend to negotiate contracts that increase the operating leverage of today’s commercial airlines, although some low-cost carriers have variable pay union contracts. As the demand for pilots from electric aviation growth increases, pilot shortages could give unions increased leverage over these businesses. More importantly for the vertical integrators, the unions will probably express reservations about the pace and safety of the transition to autonomous flight technology that the UAM companies will depend on to push costs down and stimulate demand.
Finally, this strategy could create some channel conflict between the vertical integration plays and pure play carriers. Uber Elevate comes complete with a valuable network of partners. Many of these, like the relationship with Signature Flight Support, should translate seamlessly into Joby’s vertically integrated model. However, why should the airframe partners want to support the network of one of their largest and best financed competitors? Even with a carrier strategy, none of the airframe companies with vertical integration plans will have the capital to roll-out these networks globally right away. It will just cost too much. If it is demand and not vehicles in short supply, non-affiliated airlines may choose to use vehicles from manufacturers that don’t compete in their core business.
Partnership strategies can help mitigate some of the risks from operating leverage and labor relations that vertical integration will create. Today, the major commercial carriers purchase capacity from the regional carriers instead of owning and operating those fleets. WheelsUp had a similar kind of operating arrangement with Gama in private charter. While these arrangements certainly have their advantages, the operating leverage will live somewhere in the vertically integrated system and the partners will probably not want to accept the operating leverage without some type of guaranteed volume contract.
Playing To Win
In the end, UAM represents an entirely new transportation model that requires new technology, infrastructure, systems and regulatory frameworks to deliver a cost-effective transport solution with direct connections and a good customer experience. Vertical integration strategies give Joby, Lilium, and Volocopter more control over the levers required to launch in the industry, which could give them, and by extension the entire industry, a better chance of large-scale customer adoptions. However, this strategy also comes with far greater capital requirements, the daunting task of becoming the best at multiple steps of the value chain, and the prospect of channel conflict that slows scaling in their non-priority markets.
The Lilium, Joby, and Volocopter carrier strategies suggest they believe proprietary volume will ramp up quickly. These companies face a chicken and egg problem: To stimulate demand they need the scale, but to pay for the capital required to grow demand also requires scale. When demand is uncertain, playing to win by increasing operating leverage takes vision, courage and deep pockets.
Lilium, a German-based air taxi developer and leader in aerial mobility and eVTOL technologies, has selected Lufthansa Aviation Training to partner on the development of a pilot sourcing and training program for its Lilium Jet. With the expected advent of commercially available eVTOL platform services over the next few years, pilots will need to become familiar with the new mode...
Lilium, a German-based air taxi developer and leader in aerial mobility and eVTOL technologies, has selected Lufthansa Aviation Training to partner on the development of a pilot sourcing and training program for its Lilium Jet.
With the expected advent of commercially available eVTOL platform services over the next few years, pilots will need to become familiar with the new mode of transportation and achieve type ratings as required by regulatory agencies, such as the EASA and FAA. The first phase of the training program will award pilots the type rating required to fly the Lilium Jet. Notably, the program will also employ the use of mixed and virtual reality technologies, paving the way for pilot training worldwide.
Commenting on the partnership, Remo Gerber, Chief Operating Officer, Lilium said: “Opening a new professional segment for pilots of the future is a challenge we have long been excited to undertake and Lufthansa Aviation Training is the perfect partner. Their insights, experience and dedication to forward-thinking training concepts ensure that our pilots will be selected and trained to the highest caliber, an industry standard which we will establish through this partnership.”
Lufthansa Aviation Training will provide expertise into the training and development of competencies necessary to fulfill the need for a new field of piloting, complementing Lilium’s own expertise in eVTOLs and the regional air mobility service it is building. The training program will be the first of its kind globally and a significant milestone on Lilium’s road to launch. Lufthansa Aviation Training has almost 200 training devices within its training fleet, including aircraft for pilot training, flight simulators of all common aircraft types for pilot training and emergency and service mock-ups for the training of flight attendants.
Discussing the partnership further, Tiziana Heilig, Managing Director and CFO, LAT said: “We are thrilled to be working with Lilium to create a training setup, which is unlike any seen before. As one of the leaders in this vibrant sector, we look forward to this cooperation to share each other’s wealth of knowledge to provide an unparalleled aviation training experience.”
Lilium has stated it is developing this program with input from EASA and the FAA. This will ensure the training program will produce pilots capable of operating the Lilium jet in two key global markets necessary to become a commercial success.
Why it matters: Lilium has created a robust solution to aerial mobility with its design and prototype building of the Lilium Jet. The company has also secured over $375M in funding, in addition to key industry and regulatory partnerships. This latest addition will pave the way to Lilium finding commercial success in this new industry as it tackles the hurdle of producing pilots to operate their prototype.
Source: Lilium Press Release
The city of Orlando is making additional investments for the aerial mobility framework of the future. The Orlando Business Journal reported that the Orlando City Commission is preparing to offer a total of $831,250 USD in tax benefits to Lilium over a period of 9 years to engage and attract aerial mobility companies to create an estimated 140+ jobs in the...
The city of Orlando is making additional investments for the aerial mobility framework of the future. The Orlando Business Journal reported that the Orlando City Commission is preparing to offer a total of $831,250 USD in tax benefits to Lilium over a period of 9 years to engage and attract aerial mobility companies to create an estimated 140+ jobs in the Lake Nona development.
Lilium reportedly was quoted stating that the investment is earmarked towards construction of a 56,000 square foot transportation hub, which would substantiate the job increase figures quoted. This transportation hub would serve as the primary means for aerial mobility operations for Lilium within Florida, and would likely serve other cities and locales with smaller scale “sub-hub” vertiports or individual helipads.
The agreement also underscores another often overlooked component of aerial mobility implementation – the personnel required to run the business. While a key facet of future mobility is ongoing automation of previously manned tasks, the bridge solution between current technological readiness and that of the 22nd century will include humans in the loop for the forseeable next decade, or two. Accounting for and planning the infrastructure for human interaction and operations that interface with the aerial mobility industry (across design and operations phases) is crucial to short-term success that will ultimately allow for mid to long term success.
Not unlike current fulfillment centers, aerial mobility transportation hubs will require personnel to perform quick turn actions to replenish battery packs, conduct maintenance and troubleshooting on aircraft needing repairs, and manage the physical implications of safety stocks of parts and other supply chain considerations. Increasingly, the infrastructure to support these applications is very similar to that of current factories and fulfillment centers, which also represent economic advantages to commercial land owners and developers within local economies.
Why it’s important: Orlando’s agreement with Lilium will provide an economic boost to the area, in addition to more jobs, and emphasizes the importance of human touch-labor for aerial mobility processes today. Bridge solutions will involve human interaction with eVTOL technology for at least another decade, which mean that there is additional opportunity for local economic development and stimulus from the aerial mobility industry prior to any commercial air taxi operations taking place.
Source // Orlando Business Journal
Lilium, the Munich-based aviation company developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing aircraft for regional air mobility, has agreed with both Dusseldorf Airport and Cologne/Bonn Airport to explore how the two airports can become hubs within a regional air mobility network spanning North Rhine-Westphalia. Lilium plans to establish regional air mobility as a new mode of transportation, using its fully...
Lilium, the Munich-based aviation company developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing aircraft for regional air mobility, has agreed with both Dusseldorf Airport and Cologne/Bonn Airport to explore how the two airports can become hubs within a regional air mobility network spanning North Rhine-Westphalia. Lilium plans to establish regional air mobility as a new mode of transportation, using its fully electric, 5-seater aircraft by 2025.
The announcement was made this week in Dusseldorf in the presence of the Transportation Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Hendrik Wüst. As the largest and most densely populated German state (18 million inhabitants), including ten cities with over 300,000 inhabitants, as well as more than 40 universities and colleges and four international trade fair locations, North Rhine-Westphalia is an ideal location for Lilium landing sites. The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area is the largest in Germany and the third largest in Europe. It now aims to become home to mobility in the third dimension.
North Rhine-Westphalia Transport Minister Hendrik Wüst explained: “What sounds like science fiction today may soon be reality. In the federal state with the highest mobility needs, smart ideas for better mobility are always welcome. We need all modes of transport in order to provide people with a convincingly diverse range of mobility options.“
He added: “North Rhine-Westphalia is a model region for the mobility of the future. We want digitally-networked mobility in North Rhine-Westphalia not only to be researched and developed, but also experienced as soon as possible. This is why we support and promote many future-oriented projects and research projects here in North-Rhine-Westphalia.”
As international traffic hubs with excellent connections to air, rail and road traffic, the two airports Cologne/Bonn and Dusseldorf are an ideal starting point for the development of networked mobility, which also includes air taxis.
“We are excited to bring our innovative service to North Rhine-Westphalia,” says Lilium COO Dr. Remo Gerber. “Cities such as Aachen, Bielefeld, Münster and Siegen will be directly connected to the region’s largest international airports within 30mins, providing emission-free, high-speed connectivity at an affordable price.”
Remo Gerber added: “North Rhine-Westphalia and its airports are ideal partners for us to implement this ambitious project of the future – we are grateful to receive this support from both the Ministry and our partners at the airports to implement our vision”.
Why it matters: Lilium’s partnership with Germany’s Transport Ministry will be crucial in making aerial mobility a reality in the region. The partnership will ensure the company has public sector support in recruiting talent, meeting with regulators, and garnering public support. Expect to see more partnerships like this one across the globe as manufacturers ready their prototypes for flight.
According to local news sources, board members of Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority met virtually last week to discuss the future of transportation for the area, after being pitched by German air taxi developer Lilium. According to Lilium, flights could carry passengers from Tampa to St. Petersberg in 8 minutes. This journey that could help ease traffic over the two...
According to local news sources, board members of Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority met virtually last week to discuss the future of transportation for the area, after being pitched by German air taxi developer Lilium. According to Lilium, flights could carry passengers from Tampa to St. Petersberg in 8 minutes. This journey that could help ease traffic over the two bridges over Old Tampa Bay that currently connect the two cities. The distance of the flight would be about 25 miles, and would cost passengers $90 per seat (significantly cheaper than existing helicopter options).
Said Chris Jadick, Director of Communications for the Tampa Transit Authority:
“We have real transit needs now…TBARTA is looking toward future transit innovation technology such as air taxis that are really going to define how we travel in the decades to come. One of the things they say is, look, if we can make that flight at eight minutes and it takes a taxi 35 to 45 minutes to do the same thing, we’re going to be more efficient because we can do more flights in less time.”
Jadick also mentioned the potential for autonomous operations in the area saying, “…as technology develops, if we get to autonomous vehicles that do not require a pilot, that too is going to bring the cost down.”
Ultimately, The TBARTA board made a motion to move forward in learning more from Lilium. A representative said: “We’d like to get more information. We’d like to report at our next board meeting on what it would take to do a pilot study”. According to the TBARTA, Lililum was asked when it might be able to launch initial operations, and the company responded with an estimate of 2025.
Notably, Lilium is not the first aerial mobility company to get involved in Florida. Prior to COVID-19, BLADE Air Mobility (which already provides by-the-seat helicopter charters throughout the U.S) had planned an entire sea-to-shore transport route to support tourists visiting Miami for events like the Super Bowl, Art Basel, and the Miami Open. In addition, real estate companies like Royal Palms have begun including rooftop vertiorts in the designs for their upcoming buildings, such as the Paramount Miami Worldcenter.
Why it’s important: This pitch in Tampa by Lilium represents the company’s first reported effort into developing air taxis in an area other than Europe. Although Lilium has yet to report how many U.S cities it has approached, this development from Tampa is a strong indicator of its intention to enter the aerial mobility market in the U.S.
Lilium, a German aerospace company developing the all-electric Lilium Jet, and Toray Industries, the world’s leading manufacturer of carbon fiber, announced that the two companies have signed an agreement for the supply of higher performance carbon fiber composite. The Lilium Jet is a five-seater, emissions-free aircraft that can take off and land vertically and is designed to provide high-speed regional...
Lilium, a German aerospace company developing the all-electric Lilium Jet, and Toray Industries, the world’s leading manufacturer of carbon fiber, announced that the two companies have signed an agreement for the supply of higher performance carbon fiber composite.
The Lilium Jet is a five-seater, emissions-free aircraft that can take off and land vertically and is designed to provide high-speed regional connections of up to 300km in under 60 minutes. The aircraft’s primary structures, such as the fuselage, wings and flaps will all be made from carbon fiber.
Toray Industries is recognized as a global leader in aerospace materials and their carbon fiber products played a critical role in the success of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. “Securing this supply agreement marks an important step in the maturity of our supply chain and in our preparations for serial production,” commented Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and CEO at Lilium.
In the first instance, the material will be supplied directly to Lilium for use in the production of further technology demonstrators, before being delivered directly to suppliers who will manufacture parts for prototypes and serial production.The agreement also paves the way for further collaboration between the two companies, both in the provision of other high-performance materials and the establishment of research and development partnerships.
Commenting on the partnership, Yves Yemsi, Chief Program Officer, Lilium said: “Toray’s wealth of experience in the world of high-performance carbon fibers and composite materials speaks for itself and we’re proud to be counted amongst the aerospace companies they supply.
“We look forward to developing a close collaboration with Toray in the years ahead and to building a resilient and agile supply chain for the Lilium Jet, together with other well-established and reliable aerospace suppliers across different fields of technology.”
Discussing the partnership, Minoru Yoshinaga, Toray Senior Vice President, General Manager of Torayca and Composites Division, said: “We are pleased to be selected as a partner by Lilium, one of the most promising companies in this emerging market sector.
“We look forward to working with Lilium to solve the environmental issues in urban areas, contributing by the power of materials.”
Lilium’s vision of air mobility encompasses a network of vertiports spread across an entire region, providing high-speed, point-to-point routes. Each additional vertiport added to the network would connect directly with all others within a 300km radius, leading to a fast scaling network that can provide regional connectivity at a fraction of the cost of traditional infrastructure such as high-speed trains. Lilium expects commercial operations to commence in 2025.
Why its important: News of the partnership comes just weeks after Lilium confirmed it had welcomed Baillie Gifford, Tesla’s largest shareholder, as a new investor, bringing total funds raised to date to over $375m. The fresh funding will support the further development of the Lilium Jet as well as underpinning preparations for serial production in Lilium’s newly completed manufacturing facilities.
- Lilium’s Vision for a Scalable Vertiport
- Air Mobility Startup Lilium Boosts Valuation to +$1 Billion with Baillie Gifford Investment
Source // Lilium press release
Lilium recently shared its vision of a scalable, high-speed regional transportation system for for aerial mobility. Naming the key design concepts as “lean” and “modular”, Lilium could potentially accommodate a variety of locations for a vertiport, whether at an existing transportation terminal, next to a shopping center, or even directly next to a residential area, similarly to a bus stop. Focusing...
Lilium recently shared its vision of a scalable, high-speed regional transportation system for for aerial mobility. Naming the key design concepts as “lean” and “modular”, Lilium could potentially accommodate a variety of locations for a vertiport, whether at an existing transportation terminal, next to a shopping center, or even directly next to a residential area, similarly to a bus stop.
Focusing on simplicity and cost-efficiency, Lilium’s design centers on modules that would implement fundamental components for both regulatory compliance and efficient operations. Lilium designed the modules with three basic parts: a take-off area, vehicle parking, and a terminal. Lilium mentioned that the vertiports would also require high-power charging equipment, air traffic control technology, and digital check-in tools, but that those would be ‘bundled’ into a standardized ‘plug-and-play solution’ for easy scalability.
The takeoff area, sometimes referred to as a FATO (Final Approach and Take-Off) or a TLOF (Touchdown and Lift-OFF area), will be a focal point for operations. With careful considerations for safety and regulatory compliance, a safety zone will be integrated into the takeoff area with inspiration taken from existing heliports.
The parking stand is where the passengers would board and disembark from the aircraft (in this case, the Lilium Jet) as well as where aircraft cleaning, checkups, charging, and transfer of flight data would be conducted for speedy throughput operations. Additionally, the parking stands are properly sized to ensure passenger safety while not taking up excess space.
The terminal, designed with a reduction in waiting and processing kept in mind, according to Lilium, “focuses on delivering a seamless and frictionless experience for our customers.”
“Vertiports, in their smallest configuration, can be built for as little as €1–2 million. These basic versions of a vertiport are typically ground-based, with small waiting areas and a limited set of gates for charging. Larger, elevated structures require a higher investment of between €7–15 million, depending on their situation and size.” (from a statement from Lilium)
While technical specifications of the modules and overall vertiport configurations have not been revealed, the driving force behind Lilium’s design is clearly simplicity and scalability, which would allow Lilium to expand vertiport infrastructure as fast as possible while considering regulatory compliance, safety, and variable capacity standards.
Read more about Lilium’s innovative design in their blog post here.
Why it’s important: Lilium’s vision for a scalable vertiport brings modularity and a distinct level of simplicity to the table. With the latest concept, stakeholders in Lilium get a first look at what ‘standardized’, regulatory compliant, and safe vertiports may look like in the coming years.
Source // Lilium Blog
While commercial aviation continues to feel the impact of COVID-19, Baillie Gifford signals its confidence in the future of transportation with a $35 million investment in aerial mobility vehicle startup, Lilium. Munich-based Lilium is an aviation company developing an emissions-free regional air mobility service. It has designed and prototyped the Lilium Jet, a brand-new type of aircraft that will enable it...
While commercial aviation continues to feel the impact of COVID-19, Baillie Gifford signals its confidence in the future of transportation with a $35 million investment in aerial mobility vehicle startup, Lilium.
Munich-based Lilium is an aviation company developing an emissions-free regional air mobility service. It has designed and prototyped the Lilium Jet, a brand-new type of aircraft that will enable it to deliver regional journeys that are considerably faster than rail or road, yet competitive in price. The demonstrator aircraft first flew in 2019 and is a five-seater, fully-electric aircraft that can take-off and land vertically (eVTOL). Lilium expects to service a sizeable global market demand by connecting communities at a fraction of the cost of conventional high-speed infrastructure, with zero operating emissions.
On Tuesday, Lilium welcomed respected investment management partnership, Baillie Gifford, as a new investor. Known for their track record of investing in high-impact technology companies such as Amazon, Tesla, Airbnb, Spotify and SpaceX, the partnership has invested $35m in the company, extending the current funding round to more than $275m, and total investment to date to more than $375m.
The news comes less than three months after Lilium confirmed it had received $240m in additional funding from existing investors including Atomico, Freigeist, LGT and Tencent, who led the investment round. Combined, these funds will support the further development of the Lilium Jet as well as underpinning preparations for serial production in Lilium’s newly-completed manufacturing facilities.
Commenting on the new investment, Christopher Delbrück, Chief Financial Officer, Lilium, said: “Baillie Gifford is one of the world’s most influential tech investors and their commitment to Lilium represents a significant vote of confidence in both our physical product and our business case.
“We look forward to working closely with Baillie Gifford as we seek to bring emissions-free, regional air mobility to the market as early as 2025.
“The funds raised during this round give us the security to weather the challenging economic landscape we see around us and we’re grateful to be able to stay fully focused on our mission.”
Commenting on their investment, Michael Pye, Investment Manager at Baillie Gifford, said: “We are delighted to support the remarkable team at Lilium in their ambition of developing a new mode of transport.
“While still at an early stage, we believe this technology could have profound and far-reaching benefits in a low-carbon future and we are excited to watch Lilium’s progress in the years ahead.”
Why it’s important: The aerial mobility industry is proving to be robust in these otherwise turbulent times for the aviation and transportation industries. Lilium, in particular, has boasted strong funding round results, and recently announced that it will resume flight testing after its employees spent over two months working off-site due to the global impacts of COVID-19.
Source // Lilium Media Release
Lilium looks to resume flight tests in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as restrictions on business operations are eased around the world. The German-based company has been working from home for the past two months and has been looking for ways to resume operations while maintaining social distancing among other preventative measures. Lilium currently expects flight testing to begin...
Lilium looks to resume flight tests in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as restrictions on business operations are eased around the world. The German-based company has been working from home for the past two months and has been looking for ways to resume operations while maintaining social distancing among other preventative measures. Lilium currently expects flight testing to begin in “a few months.”
Over the past several months, Lilium has been producing its second technology demonstrator aircraft, which will incorporate some design changes from the first prototype flown in 2019, fly at faster speeds, and be able to transition from vertical lift-off to fixed-wing cruise flight. Lilium aims to have the model fully certified by 2025. This latest edition of the Lilium Jet can seat up to five passengers.
In a recent presentation, Lilium’s Chief Program Officer Yves Yemsi demonstrated the company’s implementation of new management processes, including stage gate reviews at its company and across the supply chain. This concept has been successfully used elsewhere in the aerospace industry in tracking the overall technological readiness of a flight vehicle and its systems at organizations like NASA, Boeing, Airbus, and more. “We don’t want to lose quality at any stage so we are putting controls in place at all levels,” explained Yemsi, who formerly held a senior quality and program role with Airbus.
Why it matters: Earlier this year, Lilium completed another round of funding, generating over $240M bringing its fundraising total to $340M. The company has equipped itself with more than 450 employees, 35 of which hold PhDs, and many of which come from prestigious aerospace companies. Alongside its German competitor, Volocopter, the company has amassed an impressive amount of capital and talent. With restrictions easing around the world in light of COVID-19, TransportUP expects to see Lilium back in the spotlight as it looks to resume flight testing.
Just six months after unveiling the latest version of its prototype, Munich based air taxi company Lilium has released footage of its five-passenger jet making the transition from vertical to horizontal flight: The Lilium jet can seat 5 passengers, fly at 186mph, is all-electric, and has a range of nearly 200 miles. Lilium plans to build not just the aircraft...
Just six months after unveiling the latest version of its prototype, Munich based air taxi company Lilium has released footage of its five-passenger jet making the transition from vertical to horizontal flight:
The Lilium jet can seat 5 passengers, fly at 186mph, is all-electric, and has a range of nearly 200 miles. Lilium plans to build not just the aircraft itself, but an entire urban and regional air mobility system in Europe that will allow people to fly anywhere at the tap of a button.
Lilium has been working on its jet air taxi since 2015, and flew the first two-seater prototype in 2017. Since then, the company has gained great prestige by hiring former executives from Gett, Tesla, Airbus, Audi, BMW, and Rolls Royce Aerospace. Lilium has established its software engineering headquarters in London, and is currently seeking to raise an additional $500 million.
The latest prototype, which exhibited speeds of over 100km/h earlier this week, features a total of 36 ducted funs, which are built into the wing itself. During vertical take-off, these point straight down, and then tilt slowly upward to become flush with the wing and provide horizontal thrust as in a tradition airplane. Because these small motors are electric, they feature some of the best power-to-weight ratios in the entire aviation industry, with a total of 2000 horsepower available.
“The Lilium Jet continues to meet our expectations, delivering excellent in-flight performance and remarkably smooth transition from vertical to horizontal flight. ” –Leandro Bigarella, Head of Flight Testing.
This test marks the completion of the Lilium Jet’s first phase of testing, which has consisted of over 100 ground and air tests. The company will now move into the next stage of testing where the aircraft will endure higher speed operations and eventually attain certification.
With this latest announcement, Lilium has also announced the completion of its first large-scale manufacturing facility, which is 3000 square feet. It has also begun construction of a much larger facility, and hired Yves Yemsi, former Head of Program Quality for the Airbus A350, as Chief Program Officer.
Lilium plans to launch commercial services in multiple cities around the world by 2025. To learn more about the Jet and its mission, visit the Lilium website.
Why it’s important: Many industry experts have named the transition from vertical to horizontal flight as one of the greatest engineering challenges in VTOL design. Lilium has now overcome this important barrier, marking its jet as one of the highest-performing eVTOL prototypes in the industry. With this latest announcement, Lilium continues to make timely progress toward its planned 2025 commercial launch.
The company is in talks with investors for potentially their largest funding round to date The German startup is currently looking to bring up their financial position with a large jump. According to sources close to Lilium, the company has been talking with their investors to raise nearly half a billion dollars in their next round of funding; an investment...
The company is in talks with investors for potentially their largest funding round to date
The German startup is currently looking to bring up their financial position with a large jump. According to sources close to Lilium, the company has been talking with their investors to raise nearly half a billion dollars in their next round of funding; an investment which would be their largest to date. “It’s a very large round at a very large valuation,” said one venture capitalist to TechCrunch.
The specifics of this latest round are still unknown; Lilium has not divulged who will be participating in the funding round nor what the valuations might be. While the startup already has been backed by many large investors, such as WeChat owner and Chinese internet giant Tencent, Atomico, founded by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, Obvious Ventures, the early-stage VC fund co-founded by Twitter’s Ev Williams, LGT, the international private banking and asset management group, and Freigeist (formerly called e42), a fund led by Frank Thelen and backed in part by Christian Reber (co-founder of Wunderlist and now Pitch), this latest round of funding if successful would quintuple the current net worth of the company.
With plans to “transform transportation” by producing and maintaining a fleet of eVTOL aircraft, Lilium founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand looks to secure the proper funds to achieve such a large task. “It’s not only a benefit in terms of relieving society from transit traffic, but the much, much bigger benefit would be that everyone can use it and that people can get to their destination five times quicker, basically a five times increase of their daily radius of life,” said Wiegand, “This connectivity is going to be a huge benefit to society but also economic growth.”
Lilium’s most recent funding round raised $90 million, lead by investors Tencent, Atomico, and Obvious Ventures. A target valuation of nearly half a billion would suggest that these big names could pop up again.
Why it’s important: A successful funding round by Lilium would signify the largest funding round of any aerial mobility venture to date, and allow for Lilium to realize their goals of both mass-producing their aircraft and to provide and maintain a wide-reaching aerial mobility service; a huge step forward ahead of any other company in the aerial mobility sector.
Source // TechCrunch
Air taxi company Lilium has officially selected London to host its software engineering and development team. Lilium is a well-known aspiring air taxi company famous for developing the Lilium Jet. Although its headquarters are in Munich, Lilium recently announced its decision to build a software engineering base in London. Lilium believes this new software base will create hundreds of jobs in London...
Air taxi company Lilium has officially selected London to host its software engineering and development team.
Lilium is a well-known aspiring air taxi company famous for developing the Lilium Jet. Although its headquarters are in Munich, Lilium recently announced its decision to build a software engineering base in London. Lilium believes this new software base will create hundreds of jobs in London over the next five years.
Lilium is one of the primary air taxi companies in the UK, looking to begin commercial services in 2025. The company is not only developing its own jet, but is also building the entire eVTOL network including Skyports, day-to-day operations technology, and the mobile application for users.
Along with this announcement, Lilium also announced new team members. These include Carlos Morgado, former CTO at Just Eat, and Anja Maassen van den Brink of VodafoneZiggo. At the new London base, Mordago will assist in forming the new engineering team as Vice President of Digital Technology, while Maassen will work as the new CPO (Chief People Officer). The company also hired Luca Benassi as chief development engineer, who previously worked at NASA, Boeing, and Airbus.
This announcement comes shortly after Lilium revealed the new, larger version of its eVTOL jet, now capable of carrying five passengers. Just last month, the new jet could be seen completing a successful hover flight. Watch that flight here.
“We are one of very few companies in our sector that wants to both produce air taxis and then operate them day-to-day. Today’s announcement and the recruitment of these three new leaders underlines our continuous efforts to build the very best team in air mobility. We are hiring the best of the best from a global talent base, forming the basis for achieving our target of becoming the leading air mobility company.” –Lilium CEO Daniel Wiegand
Why it’s important: Notably, Lilium is one of the few UAM companies building both an aircraft itself and the operations and infrastructure for customer use. Although this is an ambitious task, Lilium has already added executives from Rollls-Royce Aerospace, Airbus, Audi, and more. While the company certainly has its work cut out, the highly capable team is likely to fulfill its vision.
Munich-based air taxi startup Lilium has now flown a five-seat version of their electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft. With the help of top engineers and business professionals from the automotive and aerospace industries, Lilium has been flying a two-seater prototype for over two years now. However, it was just earlier this month that the full-scale version, which is...
Munich-based air taxi startup Lilium has now flown a five-seat version of their electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft. With the help of top engineers and business professionals from the automotive and aerospace industries, Lilium has been flying a two-seater prototype for over two years now. However, it was just earlier this month that the full-scale version, which is intended for mass production, took flight.
The Lilium jet features a propulsion system much different than you’d see in your typical commercial jet – it uses not two, not four, but 36 electric jet engines to provide a maximum of 2000 horsepower. These engines tilt on the flaps of the aircraft for vertical thrust throughout takeoff and landing, then rotate to a horizontal orientation for cruise, during which they draw only 10 percent of the maximum output of the electric motors.
While Lilium is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for the five-seat air taxi, the company also plans to operate a network of ride-sharing aircraft in a similar fashion to Uber; vehicles will be requested via a smartphone app. Lilium intends to use a fleet of their jets to transport customers around metropolitan areas and between neighboring cities as a faster, less traffic-riddled alternative to automotive transportation. While the price of this service is not expected to be comparable to an UberX or other car ridesharing, it is promised to save the customer time. For example, the flight from Manhattan to JFK – a route that VTOL aircraft operator, BLADE, already flies – takes only six minutes, compared to around an hour by car.
Additionally, the regional flights Lilium plans to offer are predicted to be priced comparably to current commercial flights, but will likely be more environmentally friendly due to the production of zero emissions with the use of electric motors. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that flying cars prove to be more energy efficient than gasoline powered cars on trips 21 miles or more in length. The Lilium jet ultimately is expected to have a range of nearly 200 miles, making it one of the most capable air taxis coming to the market in the near future.
Why it’s important: The new five-seater iteration of the Lilium jet marks the aircraft’s base design as it moves forward to mass production. Given this, the aircraft is currently undergoing rigorous testing in order to discover any potential for improvements before the design is finalized. The first flight, while seemingly short, takes a major step toward providing an entire fleet that can be hailed at customer’s fingertips.
Sources // The Atlantic; Lilium
German air taxi company Lilium has added to its team former head of communications at Rolls-Royce Aerospace Oliver Walker-Jones. The team now includes former high-ranking executives from Airbus and Audi, as well as Frank Stephenson, who worked in design at Ferrari, BMW, and MINI. At Rolls-Royce Aerospace, Walker-Jones’ role included acting on the outward-facing aspect of the company as well...
German air taxi company Lilium has added to its team former head of communications at Rolls-Royce Aerospace Oliver Walker-Jones. The team now includes former high-ranking executives from Airbus and Audi, as well as Frank Stephenson, who worked in design at Ferrari, BMW, and MINI.
At Rolls-Royce Aerospace, Walker-Jones’ role included acting on the outward-facing aspect of the company as well as internal communications. At Lilium, he will be responsible for much the same thing, but will also focus on helping the business grow globally. This suggests that Lilium has plans to go global rather than just staying local to Germany.
The addition of Walker-Jones is important to note as Rolls-Royce is working on its own eVTOL design as well. Mr. Walker-Jones’ speaks to his decision to join Lilium:
“We have the chance to inspire and excite people of all ages and backgrounds across the globe and I can’t wait to make the most of that opportunity.”
As a reminder, The Lilium Jet is unique in that it is one of the few eVTOLs propelled by jets. The design features two fixed-wings with a total of thirty-six small ducted jet-fans that can tilt between vertical and horizontal flight, giving the Lilium jet one of the sleekest aesthetics on the market. Lilium will soon face the challenge of launching air taxi services globally with a planned launch of 2025.
Why its important: Prior to the hiring of Walker-Jones, Lilium has also recently hired Mirko Reuter, former Head of Automated Driving at Audi, Jakob Waeschenbach, former Head of Equipment Installation at Airbus, and Frank Stephenson, who worked in design at Ferrari, BMW, and MINI. . With these new hires, Lilium shows that it’s serious about taking on the future of on-demand eVTOL flight, and with so many experienced professionals on board, it has continued to position itself well to lead the industry.