ORLANDO, Fla. – Even George Jetson would do a doubletake at this new concept coming to Orlando: a fleet of electric jet aircraft to take people on regional journeys around Florida.
While Lilium, the Munich-based company behind the technology, doesn’t call these flying wonders taxis it’s not a stretch of the imagination. The vertical take-off and landing aircraft are designed to fly within a 186-mile radius and offer an alternative to other transportation, including high-speed trains and good old fashioned road trips.
“An aircraft that can take off and land vertically,” Lilium Chief Operating Officer Remo Gerber said. “It’s entirely battery driven and has 36 engines and takes off from a similar surface as a helicopter with all of its engines pointing down. Then as if it were on rails, it can transition into forward flight.”
City of Orlando and Lilium revealed this week the company plans to build its first U.S. Vertiport -- it’s like an airport but with vertical take off--at Orlando’s Aerotropolis in Lake Nona. The vertiport will be co-designed and constructed by Tavistock.
Lilium was founded five years ago by European engineers and is headquartered in Munich where the company employs 600 people. It’s zero-emission aircraft called eVTOL first flew in 2019 and seats up to five people.
In an announcement, Gerber said the cost of the flight when the service first launches will resemble the cost of a business class plane ticket. According to the news release, eventually tickets will be competitively priced to trains and “considerably faster.”
Before we get ahead of ourselves the vertiport and electric jets locations will need Federal Aviation Administration approval. The Lilium jet is under certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the FAA.
Lilium executives said Lake Nona was chosen as the hub for its first Vertiport in its Florida regional network because the community was designed with sustainable living in mind and its close distance to the Orlando International Airport.
The network will transport travelers from Orlando to Tampa in under 1 hour on a single charge, according to the company.
“This is the type of experience you normally hear about smart cities conferences,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said. “We’re making this experience a reality here in Orlando.”
Lilium officials plan to have commercial operations around the world in multiple regions by 2025.
See a complete test flight of the Lilium Jet below.