Florida will serve as a hub for one of the world's first jet-powered flying taxis— an all-electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft.
The five-year-old startup Lilium, based out of Munich, announced a deal on Wednesday with Spanish infrastructure company Ferrovial to build over 10 landing locations — called "vertiports" — in several major cities across Florida, including Orlando.
Lilium's Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Remo Gerber, said most Florida residents will live within 30 minutes of one of the flying taxi hubs, as the company plans to spread the hubs throughout the state.
The state's first commercial flight could be announced as soon as this spring. Lilium plans to have flights up and running worldwide by 2025. The company's Chief Commercial Officer, Remo Gerber, told Insider in 2019 that Lilium plans to offer the service for as little as $70 per flight.
The jet is emissions free and is designed to fit seamlessly into an urban environment. Lilium's press release says the aircraft is "as loud as a passing truck when taking off," and cannot be heard when flying over 400 meters above the ground.
"By saving time and enhancing connectivity, the service will drive significant economic growth for cities and increase access to industry, culture, and nature," the press release says.
Current models of the jet seat five people. The electric jet is designed to require minimal maintenance and low costs once in full operation.
The jet looks different than any other aircraft, according to Lilium, as it operates with 36 single-stage electric motors and does not require the oil circuits and gearboxes of a typical jet. The company compares its model to a family car, as the product has the same number of individual parts.
The 36 electric jet engines allow the aircraft to move at considerable speed, as they tilt up for takeoff and forward for flight. The jet will operate faster than any of its competitors at about 186 miles per hour.
Ferrovian's Innovation Director Rafeal Fernandez said flying taxis represent the future of transportation.
"We partner with Lilium, one of the leading companies in this nascent urban air mobility ecosystem to deliver an innovative mode of transport that will shorten distances and improve the quality of life for citizens," Fernandez said in the press release.
The concept of flying taxis has taken off across the globe and could represent a trillion-dollar industry. A Morgan Stanley Research study from 2020 found that the market for flying electric taxis could hit $1.5 trillion by 2040.
Lilium isn't the only company looking to create sustainable air traffic, over 100 different electric-jet programs are in development worldwide, including plans from companies like Toyota, Airbus, and Boeing. Hyundai and Uber have teamed up to develop an electric air-taxi service as well.
Lilium has several big-time investors, including Tencent and Atomico. In the summer, the company raised $35 million from Baillie Gifford, a SpaceX backer.Read the full article