Jet-powered flying taxi unveiled after 1st flight


LONDON • The world’s first all-electric vertical takeoff and landing passenger jet has been unveiled after completing its first flight.

German start-up Lilium aims to have a fleet of the five-seat aircraft — which can operate with a pilot or in drone mode — flying in cities worldwide by 2025, providing a pay-per-ride service that will be emission-free, five times faster than a car and produce less noise than a motorbike.

Lilium has US$100 million (RM416 million) in funds and must raise the same amount again to bring the model to market, while adding hundreds more jobs to its payroll of 300 people, CEO Daniel Wiegan told Bloomberg TV.

The plane will have a 300km range, allowing it to link New York and Boston.

A short hop between John F Kennedy International Airport and Manhattan will cost about US$70 per passenger, making it cheaper than a helicopter and competitive with top-end limousine services, chief commercial officer Remo Gerber said in an interview.

A full-scale, full-weight prototype made its flight from Lilium’s base near Munich and has commenced flight tests, the company said yesterday.

Wiegan said he’s had interest from cities worldwide, and would initially like to deploy Lilium in two or three locations each with about 20 planes — enough to make the individual operations profitable.

The plan is to remain independent, rather than seek a buyer, he said. — Bloomberg