Another giant in aerial mobility has gone public this week; Lilium has announced that it has completed its business combination with Qell Acquisition Corp, a publicly listed special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The transaction was approved by Qell’s shareholders on September 10, 2021, during a Special Meeting in which more than 98% of the votes cast were in favor of...
Another giant in aerial mobility has gone public this week; Lilium has announced that it has completed its business combination with Qell Acquisition Corp, a publicly listed special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The transaction was approved by Qell’s shareholders on September 10, 2021, during a Special Meeting in which more than 98% of the votes cast were in favor of the business combination. As of September 15, 2021, Lilium’s Class A ordinary shares and redeemable warrants will trade on the Nasdaq under the symbols “LILM” and “LILMW”, respectively.
“In 2015 with the clear vision that the decarbonization of aviation is inevitable, we set out to build a team and product that would radically transform the way the world moves. Six years and five generations of technology demonstrator aircraft later, we’re closer than ever to this goal. Today’s milestone will bring us even closer to launching our service in 2024 and making sustainable, high-speed regional air travel a reality to communities around the world,” said Daniel Wiegand, Co-Founder and CEO of Lilium.
As a result of the business combination, Lilium will receive approximately $584 million of gross proceeds, prior to transaction expenses, including from funds managed by leading strategic and long-term financial investors including Atomico, Baillie Gifford, LGT and its affiliate impact investing platform Lightrock, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Tencent, Ferrovial, Palantir, Honeywell, FII Institute and private funds affiliated with PIMCO. Net cash from the transaction will be used to fund the commercial launch of Lilium’s 7-Seater Jet. Lilium’s existing shareholders will roll 100% of their shares into the combined company.
“We see Lilium as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will be at the forefront of a whole new industry. Lilium has the capacity to revolutionize regional travel, saving people hours so they can quickly travel from city to city. Using its 7-Seater Lilium Jet, Lilium’s regional shuttle service should enable sustainable, high-speed transportation. Qell is proud to bring this exciting company to the public markets,” said Barry Engle, CEO and Co-Founder of Qell.
Why it matters: With this SPAC acquisition, Lilium has positioned itself on the public market and adds to its leadership the likes of Thomas Enders and David Neeleman. Lilium has over 700 employees across Europe and is making continual progress towards EASA certification and entry into commercial service.
Source: Lilium Press Release
The agreement between Lilium and Azul, a major Brazilian airline, includes pre-orders for 220 of Lilium’s eVTOL jets. Together, the two companies will build an exclusive eVTOL network in Brazil, with a service launch planned for 2025. More than just a purchase of aircraft, this agreement represents a strategic alliance between Azul and Lilium to fully build out an eVTOL...
The agreement between Lilium and Azul, a major Brazilian airline, includes pre-orders for 220 of Lilium’s eVTOL jets. Together, the two companies will build an exclusive eVTOL network in Brazil, with a service launch planned for 2025.
More than just a purchase of aircraft, this agreement represents a strategic alliance between Azul and Lilium to fully build out an eVTOL transportation network in Brazil. Together, the two companies will build a co-branded transportation system, which will provide efficient, eco-friendly, and cost-effective air travel to the 100 million air passengers that travel within the country yearly. Although the Lilium Jet was developed in Germany, the company’s goal has always been to provide its highly innovative air transportation all parts of the world. Currently, Brazil’s market represents one of the world’s largest for civilian air transport and helicopter transport, which Lilium and Azul hope to augment and possibly eventually completely replace with Lilium’s all-electric vertical aircraft.
Accroding to a recent press release from Lilium, Azul would expect to operate and maintain the Lilium Jet fleet, while Lilium would provide an aircraft health monitoring platform, replacement batteries and other custom spare parts. Azul also expects to support Lilium with the necessary regulatory approval processes in Brazil for certification of the Lilium Jet and any other required regulatory approvals.
The 7-seater Lilium Jet can cruise at speeds of 175 mph, with a range of up to 155 miles. Unlike any other eVTOL concept, the aircraft uses 36 rotating miniature jet engines, that allow to take off vertically and travel on a fixed wing in forward flight. A full-scale prototype of the aircraft has already been built and flight tested. Watch a tour of the aircraft’s interior below:
Said Daniel Wiegand, Co-Founder and CEO of Lilium: “Azul has brought convenient and affordable air travel to underserved markets across the Americas and this makes them an ideal partner for Lilium. We’re excited to work with Azul’s seasoned team to deploy a co-branded eVTOL network in Brazil.”
Said John Rodgerson, CEO of Azul, “Azul is the largest domestic airline in Brazil in terms of cities served and daily departures. Our brand presence, our unique route network, and our powerful loyalty program give us the tools to create the markets and demand for the Lilium Jet network in Brazil. Since Azul’s founding 13 years ago, the Brazilian aviation market has doubled with Azul capturing almost 60% of the growth. We know how to create and grow new markets, and once again we see huge market opportunity by bringing the Lilium Jet to Brazil”
Why it’s important: With Lilium already making partnerships to enter markets within the U.S and Europe, and other eVTOL companies making deals with large airlines such as Virgin and United Airlines, this announcement from Lilium enters it onto the stage for partnerships and integrations for regional air travel with the world’s largest airlines. As eVTOL companies evolve, we will likely expect to see a combination of major airline partnerships with eVTOL companies making their own networks, which together will begin to form the overall eVTOL global ecosystem within different countries and cities.
Source // Lilium
Lilium has engaged with Honeywell, a world-leading manufacturer of electronics, engines, and mechanical systems for aircraft, to develop the 7-Seater Lilium eVTOL Jet’s avionics and flight control systems. Honeywell’s Compact Fly-by-Wire System will act as the flight control system on the all-electric 7-Seater Lilium Jet, responsible for controlling its moveable parts, including the 36 control surfaces and ducted fans that...
Lilium has engaged with Honeywell, a world-leading manufacturer of electronics, engines, and mechanical systems for aircraft, to develop the 7-Seater Lilium eVTOL Jet’s avionics and flight control systems. Honeywell’s Compact Fly-by-Wire System will act as the flight control system on the all-electric 7-Seater Lilium Jet, responsible for controlling its moveable parts, including the 36 control surfaces and ducted fans that provide its high levels of maneuverability in every stage of flight.
Honeywell, one of the first major aerospace manufacturers to create a dedicated Urban Air Mobility business unit, has designed a flight control system that draws on its decades of experience providing such systems for commercial airliners. This system, which has been tailored for the Lilium Jet’s unique design, will play a crucial role in ensuring smooth, comfortable, and emission-free air travel for passengers.
Yves Yemsi, Chief Program Officer at Lilium highlights that “Honeywell will integrate an advanced flight deck tailored for Lilium Jet as the central interface to the pilot with a vehicle management computer and a high integrity flight controls computing platform to provide a state-of-the-art Fly-By-Wire solution for the Lilium Jet.”
Alongside the flight control system, Honeywell is delivering the next generation of integrated avionics systems, which will provide a simplified user interface for the pilot to fly the Lilium Jet. The selection of Honeywell’s next-generation UAM avionics system is the result of ongoing collaboration between Lilium and Honeywell to converge on the specific technical requirements suitable for the Lilium Jet. The avionics system is designed to reduce training time and will support operation by a single pilot, freeing up greater passenger capacity.
“At Honeywell, we believe in the promise of the Urban Air Mobility segment and we see the enormous potential it has to bring about a new age of aviation and forever transform the way we think about flight and transportation,” said Stéphane Fymat, vice president and general manager of Urban Air Mobility, Honeywell. “Lilium shares that vision with us, which has enabled us to forge a fantastic relationship. We’re extremely excited for our avionics to be on board the Lilium Jet, where they will help ensure not only safe operation, but also make it easier for pilots to fly and provide a more comfortable journey for those onboard.”
In addition to its selection as a provider of the flight control system for the 7-Seater Lilium Jet, Honeywell is also participating in the common stock PIPE offering in connection with Lilium’s SPAC transaction, and is providing similar systems to Pipistrel, Vertical Aerospace, and Volocopter.
Following Toray Industries, Aciturri, and Lufthansa Aviation Training, Honeywell is the latest in a series of world-class Lilium suppliers whose technology and services have been certified in aerospace around the world for decades. They are joined by infrastructure leaders, such as the Tavistock Development Company, and Ferrovial, a leading airport operator, who have provided approximately $200 million in commitments to support the development of up to 14 eVTOL ertiports in Florida.
Why it’s important: As stated by Yemsi, “the avionics and flight control computers from Honeywell will be a key element for the Lilium Jet’s electronic architecture.” Honeywell has a decades-long track record of developing and certifying avionics and safety systems for leading aerospace companies, and is quickly becoming a leader in eVTOL aerial mobility technology by providing these advanced systems to many rapidly evolving top aerial mobility companies.
After recently unveiling its 7-seater eVTOL jet, Lilium has made news again by selecting Munich and Nuremberg to host the company’s initial air taxi hubs. Discussions for air taxi infrastructure have been in the making for several years. Companies like Volocopter have already been laying down this groundwork in Singapore and Frankfurt, while EHang has started setting up several hubs...
After recently unveiling its 7-seater eVTOL jet, Lilium has made news again by selecting Munich and Nuremberg to host the company’s initial air taxi hubs.
Discussions for air taxi infrastructure have been in the making for several years. Companies like Volocopter have already been laying down this groundwork in Singapore and Frankfurt, while EHang has started setting up several hubs in China and even begun tourism operations.
Lilium has begun discussions for an air taxi hub in Florida in the U.S, but also has its attention strongly on European plans. The company hopes to establish its main aerial mobility network in Europe, starting by partnering with existing airports in Munich and Nuremberg. On April 19th, a press release by the company stated that the two hubs in Munich and Nuremberg will enable it to offer air connections between different locations across all of southern Germany.
Said Daniel Wiegand, Lilium’s CEO: “We are doing everything we can to bring our all-electric and ultra-quiet airline service to our home base of Bavaria, as well as to link Munich and Nuremberg even more closely with neighbouring cities and regions. We also want to offer a service for everyone in the Southern German region, with attractive prices and great time savings for all travellers. Munich and Nuremberg airports are key mobility hubs that we will connect with large and small cities throughout the region over time.”
The company’s ultimate goal is to establish aerial mobility networks in highly trafficked cities throughout the globe. In order to do, it has also partnered with Spanish infrastructure company Ferrovial to build at least 10 vertiports in Florida and abroad.
Why it’s important: Lilium is fast becoming one of the world’s leading developers of both innovative eVTOL aircraft and the infrastructure that they will require. Joining companies like Volocopter, Joby Aviation, and EHang, Lilium is slowly transitioning its attention from aircraft development to roll-out plans, signaling the quickening growth and forward progress of the air taxi industry.
The Future Investment Initiative Institute (FII-I) has chosen to invest in aerospace company Lilium as part of their strategy to “develop and leverage sustainable and environmentally-friendly alternatives to traditional combustion engines in the air travel industry”. According to Richard Attias, CEO of the FII Institute, “Our investment in Lilium is aligned with the FII-Institute’s mission: to support initiatives and projects...
The Future Investment Initiative Institute (FII-I) has chosen to invest in aerospace company Lilium as part of their strategy to “develop and leverage sustainable and environmentally-friendly alternatives to traditional combustion engines in the air travel industry”.
According to Richard Attias, CEO of the FII Institute, “Our investment in Lilium is aligned with the FII-Institute’s mission: to support initiatives and projects which will have a positive impact on humanity. Our trilogy strategy: Think-Xchange-Act is allowing us to play an active role in the new sustainable economy.”
The FII Institute is a new class of hybrid Think Tank/Foundation that looks to invest directly with deep innovative companies in sustainability and then supporting the growth and impact of those companies. Part of the Institute’s mission is to “support the development of technologies to address the biggest social and environmental challenges.”
According to Alexander Asseily, chief strategy officer of Lilium, “We view the FII Institute as one of the leading global platforms for sustainable impact investments and a strategic partner who can help drive our vision for an open global architecture for carbon neutral air travel.”
Widely regarded as one of the global leaders in the aerial mobility industry, Munich-based Lilium’s eVTOL seven-seater jet recently received the CRI-A01 certification basis last year from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and is currently looking to finalize certification from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the United States as well. The Lilium Jet will be the first model to go into serial production with a cruise speed of 175 miles per hour (280 kph) and a range of more than 155 miles (250 km).
Why it’s important: Recently having announced their public listing on NASDAQ through a merger with Qell Acquisition Corp., Lilium remains as one of the pioneers of the aerial mobility industry. With their funds from backers nearing $830 million, Lilium looks to offer a sustainable and less carbon-intensive way for travelers to beat traffic, hop between cities, and connect regional destinations up to 250 km.
Source // Saudi Gazette
Lilium has officially announced its intention to list on Nasdaq through a merger with Qell Acquisition Corp., a transaction that values the combined company at approximately $3.3 billion pro forma equity value at the $10.00 per share PIPE price. Simultaneously, the company revealed the development of its 7-Seater electric vertical take-off and landing jet, which employs proprietary Ducted Electric Vectored...
Lilium has officially announced its intention to list on Nasdaq through a merger with Qell Acquisition Corp., a transaction that values the combined company at approximately $3.3 billion pro forma equity value at the $10.00 per share PIPE price. Simultaneously, the company revealed the development of its 7-Seater electric vertical take-off and landing jet, which employs proprietary Ducted Electric Vectored Thrust (“DEVT”) technology, and is projected to deliver the best unit economics, with market-leading capacity, low noise and high performance.
Lilium’s vision is to create a sustainable and accessible mode of high-speed, regional transportation. The Munich-based company is building a transport network and service for people and goods around its 7-Seater Lilium Jet, an electric vertical take-off and landing jet, which offers impressive capacity, low noise, and high performance. The 7-Seater Jet has a projected cruise speed of 175 mph at 10,000 feet and a range of 155+ miles, including reserves. It is the culmination of five years of technology development across four generations of technology demonstrators, including Lilium’s full-scale 5-Seater. Furthermore, Lilium received CRI-A01 certification basis from EASA for the vehicle in 2020.
Qell Acquisition Corp. (“Qell”) is a publicly listed special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, and is focused on developing next-generation, sustainable mobility under the leadership of Barry Engle, a former president of General Motors North America. Upon closing of the transaction, the company will be called Lilium, and it is anticipated that ordinary shares will be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol LILM.
The combined company is expected to receive approximately $830 million of gross proceeds from a fully committed common stock PIPE offering of $450 million, along with approximately $380 million cash held in trust, assuming minimal redemptions of Qell’s existing public stockholders.
To date, Lilium has secured approximately $200 million of commitments from infrastructure partners, including Ferrovial and Tavistock Development Company. Up to 14 vertiports are already planned in Florida. Lilium is also in advanced discussions with key infrastructure partners for 10 vertiports to build a network across Europe.
Why it’s important: This announcement marks a significant milestone for Lilium, as the proceeds from the merger and public offering will be directed toward serial production and commercialization of the 7-seater Jet. Working in partnership with world-leading aerospace, technology and infrastructure partners, commercial operations are planned to launch in 2024. Notably, Lilium is betting on a vertical integration approach to invent urban air mobility, an approach that Dean Donovan calls “risky” in a recent editorial first published via Forbes.
Source // Lilium press release
German eVTOL manufacturer Lilium is reportedly in talks with Qell Special Acquisition Corporation, according to persons involved closely to the matter. Closure of a potential deal that values Lilium at over $2 billion would be another instantiation in a series of announcements including BLADE UAM’s deal with EXPC, Archer (ACIC), and Joby (RTP), all assuming SPAC mergers in order to...
German eVTOL manufacturer Lilium is reportedly in talks with Qell Special Acquisition Corporation, according to persons involved closely to the matter. Closure of a potential deal that values Lilium at over $2 billion would be another instantiation in a series of announcements including BLADE UAM’s deal with EXPC, Archer (ACIC), and Joby (RTP), all assuming SPAC mergers in order to maximize available capital while massively cutting the risk involved.
While discussions are underway, there is no firm indication of deal proceedings advancing at this time, and if terms do not finalize the discussion could terminate with Lilium being approached by any other number of SPACs poised to make entry into the aerial mobility market.
TransportUP previously reported in February of 2021 on Lilium’s proposed Floridian operations network, an aerial mobility network that would be the result of a joint collaboration between Lilium and Ferrovial SA (construction counterpart) that includes design and build of 10 vertiports.
Qell is led by Barry Engle, a former GM executive. According to SEC filings, the SPAC raised $350 million in a September IPO. The fund stated that investment targets would include next-generation mobility, sustainable industrial technology, and enabling technologies that support development.
Another firm that is unspoken for within the eVTOL space currently is that of New Vista Acquisition Corp (NVSAU), which IPO’ed on February 17th with a $240 million raise slated for investment in the same fields as Qell, with the addition of artificial intelligence and other enabling technologies. Any proposed eVTOL acquisition target of New Vista would be pure speculation at this point, but companies like Lilium would fit the defined scope of the SPAC’s investment strategy. NVSAU Board Member Kirsten Bartouk Touw reported to evtol.com that the focus of the SPAC spans a wider scope than strictly eVTOL manufacturers, and includes companies that are ready to go public.
Why it’s important: 2021 has been a banner year for investment in aerial mobility. Billions of dollars of investment have poured into the industry over the past three months, and additional funds, SPACs, and private investors alike are poised to take advantage of the potential long-term growth and value propositions of aerial mobility as they stake financial commitments toward the industry which still carries a respectable quantity of risk. As further deals close, expect leaders among aerial mobility to more firmly cement their standing among the ranks of other eVTOL companies as they benefit from the increased amount of resources and financing.
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