The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Lilium To Step Up eVTOL Program Expenditure Under New CEO Klaus Roewe

Lilium says it is starting the certification and industrialization phase of its plan to bring its first seven-seat eVTOL aircraft to market in 2025. In a June 7 briefing for shareholders, the public company confirmed that former Airbus executive Klaus Roewe will take the helm as its CEO on August 1, succeeding co-founder Daniel Wiegand, who will continue as a board member and chief engineer for innovation and future programs.

With the preliminary design review for the Lilium Jet now complete, a key task for the second half of 2022 is to agree on a full certification program with EASA. This step represents the European aviation safety agency’s equivalent to the FAA’s G-2 issue paper. Under bilateral agreements, the company is seeking concurrent certification with the U.S. regulator and Brazil’s ANAC agency.

In its shareholder letter, Lilium acknowledged that it now faces a period of heavy expenditure to complete the development of its aircraft and at a time of rising costs and unforeseen roadblocks in the world economy. It is now forecasting a “moderate rise” in total cash expenditure in the third and fourth quarters of this year, with its total cash outlay for 2022 expected to be around $265 million.

Part of the increased capital needed for developing the Lilium Jet is a result of new contracts with a growing list of suppliers. The most recent supplier appointments for the program have been Honeywell and Japanese automotive group Denso, which will supply electric motors; components maker Aernnova, which will provide the propulsion mounting system; and Livent, with which Lilium’s engineering team will work on new lithium battery applications.

To mitigate this pressure, the company has established an equity line of credit (ELOC) with Tumim Stone Capital to raise cash by selling “from time to time” an aggregate amount of up to $75 million in new Class A Ordinary shares to the investment group. “The ELOC allows us to leverage the liquidity in our stock while giving us flexibility around issuance timing to minimize dilution,” the company stated.

Among the design changes introduced to the Lilium Jet is a new landing gear that will give pilots a “backup option” to make a “running landing” on a short runway as an alternative to the standard vertical landing. Lilium said this change has been driven by the need to extend range reserves, especially in circumstances where the eVTOL vehicle has to repeat an approach to a landing site.

“The much lower power demand of this running landing allows more cell energy to be accessed than would otherwise be possible with the higher-power vertical landing,” the company explained in the shareholders’ letter. “Integrating forward landing capability therefore will give our customers additional reassurance of safety, flexibility, and operating range.”

A previously announced reduction in the number of the Lilium Jet’s ducted jet engines from 36 to 30, achieved through a 10 percent increase in engine diameter, has allowed engineers to integrate more acoustic damping in the wing- and canard-mounted nacelles. Lilium said the change has also reduced weight and cost.

In a further bid to drive down airframe weight and materials costs, the company says, it has removed redundant space from the design, decreasing the overall fuselage length. It notes that the revised design still allows ample space for either the six-passenger shuttle service configuration or the roomier club-four cabin, while also accommodating a possible cargo-carrying version of the aircraft. The four-passenger cabin option was unveiled at last month’s European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition.

In the coming weeks, Lilium says, it will further extend the flight test program using its Phoenix 2 technology demonstrator and expects to achieve high speeds of 100 knots (115 mph). Last week, it reported that the reduced-scale aircraft had achieved its first hover-to-cruise airflow transition, and it has now posted video of this milestone.