It's clean, quiet and easy to operate: Can the battery powered Lilium personal jet at last fulfil the promise of the flying car?
A German startup called Lilium Aviation is working on a 100 per cent electric short-haul private jet that may at last fulfil the promise of the flying car.
The company was founded in 2015 by a quartet of engineers and doctoral students from the Technical University of Munich and nurtured in a European Space Agency-funded business incubator.
"Our goal is to develop an aircraft for use in everyday life," says one of Lilium's founders, CEO Daniel Wiegand.
As the Lilium team sees it, the problem with personal aviation is airports, which are expensive to operate and utilise, and usually sit well away from city centres, negating their use as commuter hubs.
"We are going for a plane that can take off and land vertically and does not need the complex and expensive infrastructure of an airport," says Wiegand.
The company's aircraft concept promises flight without the flight infrastructure. It will require an open space of just 225 square metres - about the size of a typical back garden - to take off and land.
The Lilium Jet can cruise as far as 500km (310mi) at a very brisk 400kph (248mph), and reach an altitude of 3km (9,900ft).
And it recharges overnight from a standard household outlet.
Yes, it is functionally similar to a helicopter, but the Lilium Jet presents some distinct advantages over traditional rotorcraft flying machines.
For one, its battery powered ducted fans are significantly quieter - and cleaner - than the fuel-burning turbine and piston engines in helicopters.
And, significantly, because the mid-flight failure of a helicopter's single engine could be catastrophic, they are expensive to engineer and build, and they require meticulous daily maintenance.
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