On The Radar
Lilium has resumed flight testing of its five-seat eVTOL technology demonstrator as it steps up work to complete the design for the seven-seat Lilium Jet it intends to bring into commercial service by the end of 2024. The aircraft now being flown from the German company’s base near Munich includes design changes incorporated after an earlier demonstrator model was destroyed last year in a fire resulting from thermal runaway following the installation of battery modules.
The update on development work was part of a presentation made to the investment community during a Capital Markets Day event staged by Lilium on August 2. Slides shown included an updated program timeline, which shows type certification being completed during the third quarter of 2024. Design work is due to continue until around the middle of next year, at which point production and ground testing work will begin, followed around the end of the first quarter of 2023 by flight testing of a production-conforming Lilium Jet.
Meanwhile, Lilium’s planned IPO merger with Qell Acquisition Corp is proceeding with a shareholder vote on the anticipated $830 million transaction in early September. Qell is a San Francisco-based special purpose acquisition company led by former General Motors North America president Barry Engle.
Total gross proceeds from the deal, which originally had been expected to close by the end of June, will include $380 million in cash and the proceeds from a $450 million Private Investment in Public Equity investment with backers including Baillie Gifford, BlackRock, Tencent, Ferrovial, LGT/Lightrock, Palantir, FII Institute and PIMCO. The combined company is expected to be valued at around $3.3 billion based on the $10 PIPE share price.
The presentation to prospective investors included some interesting examples of the commercial flights that Lilium intends to provide. Details include per passenger pricing ranging from around $65 to $300.
In Florida, where it plans to establish a network of vertiports across the most populous parts of the state, the Lilium Jet will be able to carry passengers between Fort Myers on the Gulf of Mexico coast to Palm Beach on the Atlantic coast in 45 minutes (representing an estimated 2-hour saving compared with driving) for $200 per passenger. The 20-minute flight from Palm Beach to Miami would be priced at $150.
If Lilium expands services to the northeast U.S. it says it would offer a 1 hour 15 minute flight time from New York to Boston for $300. Other trips might include a 40-minute flight from Manhattan to the Montauk summer resort on the far eastern end of Long Island for $200, or a 5-minute hop to JFK International airport for $65.
The Lilium Jet is projected to have a range of over 155 miles and a cruise speed of 175 mph at 10,000 feet. This performance is slightly lower than the 186 miles/186 mph targets for the five-seat technology demonstrator, reflecting tradeoffs being made to secure the additional payload.
Lilium says it will be able to develop a larger 16-seat version of the aircraft that will operate from the same footprint on the ground. Its plans also call for a cargo-carrying model with 210 cubic feet of space in the cabin.