lilium sees skies of green with its personal electric aircraft concept




german start-up company lilium is developing a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft for personal use. the electric two-seater aims to open the door to a new class of simpler, quieter and environmentally friendly airplane designs

private aircraft takes off vertically removing the need for long runways




founded in february 2015 by four engineers and doctoral students from the technical university of munich in germany, lilium has already proved the concept with several scale, 25 kilogram prototypes and is now in the process of developing its first ultralight vertical takeoff and landing airplane design. today, general public aviation offers fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. conventional aircraft are efficient, fast and available in many sizes but often require airports 20–50 kilometers from city centres because of their space-hungry runways and the high noise levels. 

rendering of the aircraft flying over london’s skyline




‘our goal is to develop an aircraft for use in everyday life,’ explains daniel wiegand, CEO and one of the company’s four founders. ‘we are going for a plane that can take off and land vertically and does not need the complex and expensive infrastructure of an airport. to reduce noise and pollution, we are using electric engines so it can also be used close to urban areas.’


liliim’s view is that airports are expensive bottlenecks for transportation, especially for short-haul flights where travel time to and from them can easily double the duration of a trip. this is not a problem for helicopters, which can take off almost anywhere and are therefore often used for short shuttle flights and special applications. however, helicopters are noisy and notoriously difficult to fly – which requires expensive licences. there is also no backup in case they suffer a rotor failure, making them expensive to build and maintain.

the design is intended for recreational use




the concept combines the benefits of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft while avoiding their drawbacks. while initially restricted to airfields, their goal is for it to take off vertically from almost anywhere – even from back gardens – as it only requires an open flat area of about 15 x 15 meters. although taking off and landing like a helicopter, by swivelling its engines it also functions as a very efficient aircraft that can travel at up to 400 km/h. entirely electric, the plane is much quieter during takeoff than helicopters thanks to its ducted fan engines. its batteries, engines and controllers are redundant, making it a much safer design than conventional helicopters.

wings feature ducted fan engines that swivel to alter the flight path




the plane is intended for recreational flying during daylight, in good weather conditions and in uncongested airspace up to three kilometers altitude. it is classed as a light sport aircraft for two occupants, with the pilot’s licence requiring 20 hours’ minimum training – almost like taking a driving licence. lilium believe that using computer controls for vertical takeoff and landing is essential for a vehicle targeted at the consumer market for personal transportation. additionally, satellite navigation is crucial to the high degree of automation and wind compensation during takeoff and landing.

classified as a light sport aircraft the cabin holds up to two occupants 




‘in the longer term, our target is to build an aircraft that not only the super-rich can afford, and that can make private air transportation possible for a much wider number of people,’ adds daniel. ‘with the concept of taking off and landing almost everywhere, we could see that one day our plane will be used for quick and daily transportation almost like a car today.’

students from the technical university of munich test the flight of their prototype




the company is planning its first manned experimental flight in 2017 and rollout of the completed vehicle for licensing by 2018, ready for initial production to begin meeting orders.