Start-up aircraft designer Lilium has closed a $90 million round of financing, garnering support from the founders of Skype and Twitter, to continue developing a five-seat, electric-powered, vertical take-off and landing vehicle as an air taxi scheduled to enter service by 2025.
The Series B funding announced on 7 September, comes five months after Lilium demonstrated a vertical take-off and transition to forward flight with an unmanned prototype of the electric-powered aircraft using a distributed propulsion system, the company says.
With overall capital raised in excess of $100 million, Lilium now can expand its staff to 70 to prepare for a scheduled first flight of a manned Lilium Jet in 2019.
“Our backers recognise that Lilium’s innovative eVTOL technology puts us in the lead in this exciting new industry, with no other company promising the economy, speed, range and low-noise levels of the Lilium Jet,” says Lilium co-founder and chief executive Daniel Wiegand.
The Lilium Jet is promised to deliver speeds up to 160kt (300km/h) for 1h on a single charge of the aircraft’s electric batteries. If used as an air taxi, Lilium cites a 5min journey by air from Manhattan to New York-JFK airport.
Instead of relying on quadrotors or tilting engines or wings, the designers of the Lilium Jet embedded 36 electric jet thrusters into the flaps along the trailing edges of a forward canard and rear-mounted wing.
In a deployed position, the flaps point the jet exhaust downward for vertical take-off or landing. Retracting the flaps moves the direction of jet exhaust to a horizontal position for high-speed cruise.