A Jetsonian future, with flying vehicles landing and taking off on a dime, is closer than you think.
The aircraft manufacturing firm Lilium GmbH has inked a deal with renowned Spanish Architecture firm Ferrovial SE to build 10 “vertiports” where its stable of air taxis may soon be available for the public.
Lilium, a member of the “unicorn” club because of its $1 billion valuation, has had a working prototype for a product known as the Lilium Jet since 2019.
The aircraft runs on electricity and takes off vertically, like a helicopter, with power from 36 jet engines. The engines then swivel, and the aircraft flies through the air like a plane.
The Lilium Jet is known for efficiency and relative longevity:
- It uses just 10% of the energy of a standard helicopter.
- Its battery can stay powered up for rides of up to 186 miles.
Lilium had already struck deals for vertiports in Tampa and Miami. The first flights in Florida could be announced later this spring, according to Bloomberg.
The partnership with Ferrovial, which owns 25% of Heathrow Airport, will help Lilium build in other cities. The company expects to be operating globally by 2025.
How much will a ride cost?: The Lilium rides will be more than the subway but not outrageous either. The company estimates a ride from somewhere like JFK Airport to Manhattan would run you the same price as a top-end limo.
Lilium is not the only company working on air taxis but is perhaps the most promising. Uber sold its flying car unit to Joby Aviation in December. The company had originally planned to launch the fleet in 2023.