The business aviation community got its first glimpse at what it will be like to travel in nascent eVTOL aircraft, with a full-scale mockup of the Lilium Jet unveiled this week at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Geneva. The German manufacturer exhibited an example of the Pioneer Edition, which features a club-four seating configuration that gives more space than the standard six-seater Shuttle version.
Lilium plans to build just 50 Pioneer Edition aircraft. This version of the all-electric Lilium Jet, which features 30 ducted fans in its canard and wings, is expected to be delivered by early 2026.
On May 23, private jet and helicopter operator Air-Dynamic signed an agreement to take five of the Pioneer Edition Lilium Jets. The company plans to operate and manage the all-electric aircraft for customers in Switzerland. The order is backed by an unspecified deposit and takes the number of Pioneer Edition sales commitments to 25, with UK-based aircraft management and charter group Volare last year has agreed to add up to 20 of the aircraft to its fleet. Lilium says it now holds potential orders for 645 aircraft.
Lilium's cash flow was further boosted on May 24, when European operator ASL Group firmed up a memorandum of understanding signed in July 2022 to confirm it will take delivery of six of the Pioneer Edition aircraft. It will pay an undisclosed deposit payment to the manufacturer and will operate the aircraft in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany.
Externally, the most eye-catching feature of the cabin is a pair of large windows giving passengers a panoramic view without craning their necks. Inside, the color and strength of the lighting can be adjusted and owners can decorate a large leather ceiling panel to their taste.
“It’s their personal canvass,” Alberto Caruso, Lilium’s head of design and brand, told AIN. Customers can also specify the design and materials used for the lower section of the cabin console and features such as leather pockets in the cabin walls to store magazines and other items.
The Lilium Jet fuselage is longer than helicopters currently used for private aviation and somewhat resembles a light business jet in scale. “It’s not boxy like a helicopter or tube-shaped like a jet,” said Caruso.
An aisle between the two sets of seats gives each passenger a generous amount of personal space. Noise levels in the cabin are expected to be below 80 dBA.
The aircraft’s batteries are stored in cavities on each side of the fuselage. At current levels of energy and power density, the aircraft’s range will be limited to 155 miles. However, Lilium expects to be able to change these out within a few years for new batteries that would extend the range to almost 190 miles.
The Pioneer Edition eVTOL vehicle is priced at around $10 million, depending on which customization options buyers chose. The six-seat Shuttle model sells for $7 million, with the Premium version priced at around $8 million.
Buyers of the Pioneer Edition receive a comprehensive service package under their contracts with Lilium. Other customers can purchase this level of support separately or will be able to contract maintenance services with approved providers.
Air-Dynamic Will Offer eVTOL Flights to Milan
Lugano-based Air-Dynamic has around 20 years of experience operating charter flights and managing aircraft for private owners. Its fleet includes a pair of Pilatus PC-12 turboprop singles, as well as several jets and helicopters.
According to Air-Dynamic CEO Raffaella Meledandri, the operator plans to offer flights from Lugano in southern Switzerland to Milan city center. This is a distance of just over 50 miles but the drive can take at least 90 minutes. It will also fly to tourist destinations such as Lake Como and Capri.
“With today’s partnership, Lilium deepens its reach into Europe’s premium travel market,” said Lilium’s chief commercial officer Sebastien Borel. “We’re leveraging Air-Dynamic’s innovative and entrepreneurial approach to operating and managing private jets and helicopters in the region. This partnership fits well in our commercial first phase strategy to engage the premium segment with our impressive Lilium Pioneer Edition.”
In March 2022, NetJets agreed to add up to 150 Lilium Jets to its fractional ownership fleet. Other prospective customers include Saudi Arabian Airlines, Globe Air, Helity Copter Airlines, ASL Group, ASL Aviation, and Bristow.
This week Lilium published its first-quarter shareholder letter, reporting that its adjusted cash spend for the period is on target at €62 million ($67 million) against a budget of €125 million for the first half of this year. The company said it had €143 million liquidity at the end of March, which was before it announced a new $250 million funding round, of which $100 million has already been committed.
"Our latest capital raise will enable us to continue to advance at speed towards our key milestones, including the start of final assembly of the type-conforming aircraft this year, first manned flight in the second half of 2024, and type certification in 2025," said Lilium CEO Klaus Roewe.
This story was updated on May 24 to add a reference to firm orders placed by ASL Group and also details from Lilium's first-quarter shareholder letter.