World’s First Pure Electric VTOL Aircraft Takes Flight – Video


Lilium Jet has successfully completed the maiden flight of its all-electric VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) Eagle aircraft.

Lilium Jet Eagle

The two seat Eagle is just a test prototype at this point, but the company has already begun work on a production-intent 5-seat model that would be targeted for on-demand air taxi and ride-sharing services.

Range of these production aircraft is said to be 300 km (186 miles), as well as having a 300 km/h (186 mph) top speed.

The VTOL capability was achieved through an array of electric motors that rotate by 90 degrees.

Lilium celebrates successful flight tests and introduces 5-seater VTOL jet

We have incredibly exciting news to share. The Lilium Jet successfully completed its maiden test flight series in the skies above Bavaria. The 2-seater Eagle prototype executed a range of complex maneuvers, including its signature mid-air transition from hover mode to wing-borne forward flight.

Seeing the Lilium Jet take to the sky and performing sophisticated maneuvers with apparent ease is testament to the skill and perseverance of our amazing team. We have solved some of the toughest engineering challenges in aviation to get to this point. The successful test flight programme shows that our ground-breaking technical design works exactly as we envisioned. We can now turn our focus to designing a 5-seater production aircraft.

We are now developing a larger, 5-seater version of our Lilium Jet, designed for on-demand air taxi and ridesharing services. A typical journey with the Lilium Jet will be at least 5x faster than by car, with even greater efficiencies in busy cities. So a flight from Manhattan to New York’s JFK Airport will take around 5 minutes, compared to the 55 minutes it would take you by car.

Lilium Jet Eagle

The Lilium Jet 5-seater

The Lilium Jet 5-seater

The Lilium Jet 5-seater

The Lilium Jet 5-seater

Category: General, Videos

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49 responses to "World’s First Pure Electric VTOL Aircraft Takes Flight – Video"
  1. SJC says:

    It was forward hover, not plane flight.
    Maybe next time.

    1. offib says:

      One test at a time..

      1. SJC says:

        Yes but their press release said full flight which was in error. They also will not get 180 mile range.

    2. JIMJFOX says:

      Please explain your puzzling assertion?

    3. Martin Winlow says:

      Sorry, but you are wrong. At 1:23 it is *very clear* that the vectoring thrust assemblies have rotated away from an entirely vertical orientation, the aircraft is moving forwards at about 30mph and it is maintaining altitude. Ergo, the wings must be contributing to it not falling out of the sky.

      1. SJC says:

        You need more than 70 mph to lift off a runway with 120 square feet of wing, this has less than half that velocity with half the wing area and lots of drag.

      2. John Strader says:

        Martin, I think your observation is correct. The aerodynamic design is very sophisticated- in level flight, the inlet air for the ducted fans is drawn over the top of the wing, which via the Bernoulli effect increases lift even at low speed. It’s efficient, I like it!

  2. Mister G says:

    It’s a giant drone lol, I sure wouldn’t want one falling and crushing private property or squishing humans.

    1. Anon says:

      Large Scale Drone Tech is as good as we’re going to get for electric air transport, until we can willfully amplify or supress gravity waves with portable devices.

      This is a very cool designed VTOL aircraft, regardless.

      1. SJC says:

        It IS a great achievement, they need to stop over specifying, it will not get 180 mile range and has not even flown with wing lift like a real airplane.

      2. Martin Winlow says:

        (At the risk of sounding boring…)

  3. AlphaEdge says:

    I was impressed till I read, there was no one inside the ‘drone’.

    Let’s see how it does with the weight of a person on board.

    1. Doggydogworld says:

      Not just the two passengers but also enough batteries to fly for more than a few minutes. This demo shows some good control systems work, but doesn’t address any of their issues with basic physics and aerodynamics.

      I don’t expect to ever see this fly with the front fans retracted into the body. The artist’s conception looks crazy-cool but the aerodynamics make no sense. I can’t imagine what they were thinking. The 4-seat design fixes this with a fixed canard. Unfortunately that hurts efficiency and looks goofy.

      I wish these guys well, but that first design doesn’t inspire confidence.

      1. Jason says:

        I assume in forward flight they are using the wings for lift just like a normal plane? I agree, for this type of vehicle the design might be quite different to what we know. It does not look like many fans all up, so for VTOL you could just paste them around the fussalage and significantly reduce the size. Lift surfaces are important to save energy, but I wonder if that design could be done differently than traditional plane, which needs plenty of wing span to actually get off the ground?

        1. It appears that the 5-Seater has better Forward Wings, and also better Main Wings. The Canards on it seem better than just the Trust Pods of the Prototype!

          Maybe just adding over-wing Electric Thrust Strips to Conventional Wings would add efficiency, too!

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            There are existing fuel-efficient planes which use forward canards to balance a main wing positioned in the rear. The Rutan Long-EZ is one such design which must be practical, since it has been built and flown.

            But the prototype shown here has no airfoil, no lifting surface, attached to those front-positioned fans, so I question that the term “canard” is appropriate here.

            The artist’s concept for “The Lilium Jet 5-seater” looks to be at least somewhat closer to a real design for a real airplane, altho perhaps still not all the way there.

            The Rutan Long-EZ (not an electric airplane)

        2. SJC says:

          The video shows forward hover, NO wing lift flight.

          1. JIMJFOX says:

            You’re getting boring. Shut up.

            1. SJC says:

              Facts are not boring, tell me to shut up one more time then I will report you, you will be banned.

      2. Martin Winlow says:

        Why would the front thrusters have to retract? I can’t see how it could do that with this design anyway as occupants would be in the way. In any event, I see from the video fixed frame – looking straight down on the aircraft – that there is a socking great tube connecting the two front thrusters… So clearly not a workable design as it stands.

        1. Doggydogworld says:

          Their plan was to retract the front “pods” to reduce drag in high speed horizontal flight. They had Photoshops of it flying this way on their web page (might still be there).

          You can’t have all your lift at the rear, it’s like a card table with two adjacent legs folded up. They planned to make it a “lifting body” design, but the math doesn’t work.

          @Pushmi – the 5 seater front wing is not a conventional airfoil, but it’s definitely a lifting surface. Canard is the proper term.

          BTW, the 5 seater drawings don’t show any way to rotate the front fans for VTOL. Good luck with that.

  4. Someone out there says:

    Flying personal transport is just stupid. Not only does it require enormous amounts of energy just to stay in the air, it will also lead to much more catastrophic crashes. It’s the worst way to spend energy!

    1. Tell That to Airbus, Cessna, Piper, Mooney, Beachcraft, etc!

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Reality check: There are more General Aviation (small plane) aircraft taking off and landing from airports than there are medium-sized and larger airliners, every day of the year.

      Small planes crashing generally result in only minor destruction, and generally nobody being killed except perhaps the pilot and/or passengers.

      There is no rational reason to call for an end to, or reduction of, General Aviation flights.

      1. Four Electrics says:

        It’s incredibly dangerous on a per hour and per mile basis. It becomes even more so when flying for transportation rather than recreation.

        I once calculated that my lifetime risk of dying in a small plane crash was 5%–and that was only from recreational flying 10 hours a week. Flying for transportation, which encourages flying in less than perfect conditions, would probably be an order of magnitude more dangerous.

        Maybe with an AI flying, LIDAR, and an impeccable maintenance regimen, I would consider it.

    3. JIMJFOX says:

      It is intended as a 5-seat air taxi, NOT ‘personal transport’. Presumably it will have a qualified pilot/driver.

      1. Martin Winlow says:

        More likely autonomous by the time it gets to the market… Why waste valuable payload on a pilot?

    4. Martin Winlow says:

      Not all ‘flying personal transport’ is stupid…

  5. Nelson says:

    Why not just make an electric helicopter.

    NPNS! SBF!

    1. georgeS says:

      the idea here is to reduce fuel consumption. Helicopters suck more electricity.

      I’m doing a VTOL RC unit with long range capability.

      right now we are using a 7′ wing span glider to minimize power draw.

      It also takes way more expensive radio equipment.

    2. SJC says:

      VTOL planes take less energy once they are going fast enough to have wing lift. This has not yet.

  6. OntarioLeaf says:

    Count me as a believer. The vision is correct. All cities of this world have immense congestion problems. Things that fly are easier to automate. What worries me is that this type of tech will become yet another way for the privileged to go around.

    1. Ocean Railroader says:

      I had a friend who worked on a story line called the Southwinds were the privileged and wealthy people in a futuristic city did get to fly around in personal transports while everyone else took the bus.

  7. Intrepid says:

    This isn’t the first all-electric VTOL..

    The e-volo volocopter is about to go to market and the tech is incredible.

    1. Jason says:

      I think all those open props will be the biggest problem for these machines. At least with Lilium you can envision how easy it is to protect people from the fans.

      1. Intrepid says:

        E-volo has multiple redundant systems and a parachute system if it all goes to s***.

        1. SJC says:

          A parachute is a problem with tall buildings, no control after deployment.

  8. Ocean Railroader says:

    I personally think batteries are going to have to get 80% to 200% better or at least equal jet fuel in energy power before this becomes main stream.

    1. It does not Have To become Mainstream in this Decade, it just needs to get Started! It was a few years from the Wright Brothers, before you could go buy an Airplane for your self, wealthy, or not! It can be improved as batteries improve, that part is obvious, but it still takes time to test systems, control, Navigation Management, Obstacle avoidance, and More! The first 5-10 Units will mostly be test craft, refining such matters. (Or – they should be, based on the Business Jet Flight Test Programs I have worked on, in production.)

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “I personally think batteries are going to have to get 80% to 200% better or at least equal jet fuel in energy power before this becomes main stream.”

      Certainly the batteries currently used in electric cars are far too heavy and far too bulky for mainstream airliner use. Right now they are usable only for niche applications, such as trainer airplanes which take only short flights, and sailplanes which act as gliders whenever possible, only using electric propulsion and batteries for takeoffs and auxiliary power.

      The “napkin math” I did a few years ago suggested that batteries needed to improve energy density to about 5x as good as those in use at that time. However, analyses I’ve seen from others suggest that perhaps I was being too pessimistic. One factor to consider is that airplanes, being more expensive than cars, might tend to use batteries that are more expensive per kWh, and thus might have higher energy density (thus lower weight and size) than those generally used by EV makers.

      1. SJC says:

        Tesla says batteries will improve energy density at about 8% per year. Five years from now they could be almost 50% greater energy density, these guys need to get about 500% to reach their original number of 300 mile range.

  9. Bill Howland says:

    I bet Clarkson Cote is the first one in NY State to purchase one.

    And if it crashes less often than those death-trap Ospreys, the military will be interested.

  10. Four Electrics says:

    An electric plane makes sense only if powered by lightweight hydrogen.

    1. SJC says:

      They make APUs that reform jet fuel.

    2. JIMJFOX says:

      How you gonna do that??

      1. SJC says:

        You are getting boring.

  11. Delta says:

    How about a tight laser beam sends focused microwave electricity to plane directly – in flight re-charge along standard flight paths should be possible – especially for these low-flying passenger airplanes.

  12. John in AA says:

    Other than being extremely annoyed at calling a ducted fan a “jet”, I’m impressed by the demo.

    It’s. Not. A. Jet.

    1. SJC says:

      Air jet propulsion does not have to have a gas turbine.