A new “flying taxi” has been unveiled by German start-up Lilium, which claims the vertical take-off craft could be the basis for an on-demand air service within six years.
The electric jet-powered five-seater aircraft is designed to travel up to 300km, a journey that would take it an hour at top speed.
The firm, which has attracted more than €100m (£87m) in investment since its founding in 2015, has set a target of offering Uber-style, app-based air taxis in multiple cities by 2025.
The latest iteration, with room for a pilot and four passengers, will be the template for Lilium’s mass production model. With sufficient economy of scale, Lilium believes fares would be around $70 (£55) per head for a cross-city hop.
Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and chief executive, said: “We are taking another huge step towards making urban air mobility a reality. The Lilium Jet itself is beautiful and we were thrilled to see it take to the skies for the first time.”
Remo Gerber, chief commercial officer, said the jet made around 20% of the noise of a helicopter: “You could utilize this in cities where people live, it’s totally electric powered … This is very different.”
The flying taxi design is simple, beyond the 36 electric jet engines needed for vertical take-off and landing, make it more safe and affordable than other planes.
Once in the air, the power needed in cruise is little more than that of an electric car, Lilium says. The fixed wing design gives a longer range than competitors with drone-based aircraft, which consume much more energy keeping airborne.