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German Aviation Startup Lilium Announces Plans to Build 10 U.S. ‘Vertiports' for its 4-Passenger eVTOL Aircraft

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【Summary】German aviation startup Lilium announced plans to build a futuristic “vertiport” in the state of Florida together with transportation infrastructure developer Ferrovial based in Madrid, Spain. It’s the first of ten vertiports Lilium plans to build in the U.S. together with Ferrovial. The vertiports will support a high speed, zero emissions and affordable air transportation service to connect communities in Florida and beyond.

Eric Walz    Jan 27, 2021 2:30 PM PT
German Aviation Startup Lilium Announces Plans to Build 10 U.S. ‘Vertiports' for its  4-Passenger eVTOL Aircraft

While the auto industry focused on electrification on the ground, developers of electric vehicle takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) are aiming to whisk passengers over urban traffic, cutting commutes down to 15 minutes or less. One such company is aviation startup Lilium, which is based in Munich, Germany.

The aviation company announced plans to build a futuristic "vertiport" in the state of Florida together with transportation infrastructure developer Ferrovial based in Madrid, Spain. It's the first of ten vertiports Lilium plans to build in the U.S. together with Ferrovial.

The vertiports will support a high speed, zero emissions and affordable air transportation service to connect communities in Florida and beyond. Ferrovial and Lilium will collaborate in designing and constructing the vertiport facilities, as well as the operation and maintenance of the vertiports for an passenger service.  

The location of the South Florida vertiport will be announced as early as Spring 2021. The vertiport will cover strategic locations in all major cities across Florida and support an efficient and environmentally friendly alternative for connecting locations across Florida via air.

The two companies have signed a framework agreement to develop a network of at least ten vertiports in other locations. Lilium plans to operate a regional air mobility service by 2025.

"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," said Daniel Wiegand, Lilium Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder. 

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The electric Lilium Jet has a flying range of 186 miles.

Vertiports are essential for the commercial launch of an eVTOL or "air taxi" service. They provide eVTOL aircraft with the infrastructure for landing, recharging, and taking off with passengers.  

The company's electric Lilium jet is a 5-passenger (4 passengers and a pilot) eVTOL aircraft with a top speed of 186 mph and a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles). The aircraft is powered by 36 electric motors. 

The Lilium Jet's "electric engines" as the company calls them, are designed to be ultra-quiet with air ducts that dissipate noise before it leaves the engine, so they are suitable for dense urban areas where noise is a concern. 

Distributed vectored thrust delivered by the 36 electric engines allows for precision control of the aircraft when it transitions from hover flight to forward, wing-borne flight. Lilium says this maneuver is the most aerodynamically challenging phase of flight for eVTOL aircraft. 

The engines face downward like a rocket to take-off, then pivot to a horizontal position for flight. Once airborne, lift is provided by the Lilium Jet's wings and the electric jets are used solely for propulsion. 

Since the Lilium Jet is much quieter than a helicopter, it can be flown lower over urban areas without disturbing the residents below. The quiet electric engines also deliver a more comfortable experience for passengers, the company said.

"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," said Dr. Remo Gerber Chief Operating Officer at Lilium.

"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 unrivalled expertise in airport construction and operations around the globe." 

Since its founding in 2015, Lilium has attracted more than $375 million in funding from investors such as Atomico, Tencent, Baillie Gifford and Freigeist Capital. Baillie Gifford is known for investing in major technology companies such as Amazon, Tesla, SpaceX and Spotify. 

Lilium has offices in Munich, Zurich, London, and Washington D.C.

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