German air taxi developer Lilium has reported “significant progress” on both fundraising as well as engineering milestones in the first quarter of 2024 as it spent €94.7 million ($102 million).

The Munich-based company said on 11 June that it is still on track to launch piloted flight testing of its Lilium Jet “at the end of this year” and for entry into service by 2026.

“We have the next milestone, first piloted flight, firmly in our sights,” said chief executive Klaus Roewe on the airframer’s first-quarter investor call. “Our focus is on the delivery of key programme milestones such as the start of production of our aviation-grade battery packs achieved in April.”

Air Dynamic-c-Lilium

Source: Lilium

Lilium says its engineering and manufacturing teams are working at ‘full speed’ to achieve manned flight by the end of the year

“Our engineering and manufacturing teams are currently working at full speed to achieve the first manned flight of the Lilium Jet, targeted for the end of this year,” he says.

The company also says it recently made significant strides on the financing front, generating $114 million in gross proceeds from a capital raise backed by new and existing investors. 

In addition, Lilium says it is “in advanced discussions” towards a French government guarantee-backed loan. “Lilium estimates this funding will be around €200 million with the disbursements tied to investment by Lilium to develop and expand its industrial footprint in France,” it adds.

A third source of cash is a possible loan in Germany that would be backed by state and federal governments. Due diligence is currently under way by state bank KfW and is expected to take six to eight weeks, the company’s new chief financial officer Johan Malmqvist says.

Those loan guarantees could also be in the range of €100 million. He adds that the company has made “significant advances in discussions” with the Bavarian authorities.

The company in April had an application for a similar loan guarantee turned down. Lilum’s home state Bavaria prevented the approval of such guarantees at both state and federal levels for Lilium and fellow electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developer Volocopter. At the time, executives at both companies complained that the cancellation could put the firms into jeopardy. Volocopter chief executive Dirk Hoke went so far as to publicly weigh insolvency for that company.

Lilium said on 11 June that its commercial orderbook now stands at “over 780 aircraft”. Of those, 56 are firm orders, 26 are options and about 700 are under memoranda of understanding.

Most recently, Florida start-up UrbanLink, led by seasoned airline veteran Ed Wegel, in May purchased 20 jets for operation across South Florida, the company adds. The firm commitment includes scheduled pre-delivery payments.

Malmquist says that at the end of the first quarter Lilium had cash and cash equivalents of €102 million in its coffers, not including the latest fundraising figures. Adjusted first-half spending is forecast to be between €185-195 million, slightly higher than earlier estimates, as the firm plans higher spending for equipment for aircraft already on the production line. In February, former chief financial officer Olvier Vogelsang had said the range would be €170-180 million.

“We believe we have a liquidity roadmap for first piloted flight later this year,” Malmquist adds.

Roewe says that the company is now “well into assembly of the first jet” – which will be used for ground testing – and the fuselage, wings and canards of MSN2, the flight-test aircraft, are also already assembled.

“During the first quarter of 2024, major aircraft structures and systems continued to arrive at Lilium from our suppliers, enabling Lilium to advance aircraft build and verify quality and interfaces for the first set of Lilium jets,” the company says.