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German airports to build VTOL passenger drone infrastructure

Passenger drone manufacturer Lilium has partnered with German airports Dusseldorf and Cologne/Bonn to build VTOL passenger drone infrastructure. Lilium plans to bring its fully electric, five-seater aircraft to market by 2025.

Lilium has partnered with two airports in Germany to explore how the airports can become transport hubs for passenger drone transport spanning the whole North Rhine-Westphalia state. The partnership would eventually also allow Lilium to deploy its passenger drones throughout the country.

The transportation minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hendrik Wüst, announced the partnership. He said that the state was a perfect location to explore passenger drones, with a population of 18 million and more than 40 universities and four international trade-show locations.

Wüst explains:

What sounds like science fiction today may soon be a reality. In the federal state with the highest mobility needs, smart ideas for better mobility are always welcome. We need all modes of transport in order to provide people with a convincingly diverse range of mobility options. North Rhine-Westphalia is a model region for the mobility of the future. We want digitally networked mobility in North Rhine-Westphalia not only to be researched and developed but also experienced as soon as possible. This is why we support and promote many future-oriented projects and research projects here in North-Rhine-Westphalia.

Lilium COO Dr. Remo Gerber said:

We are excited to bring our innovative service to North Rhine-Westphalia. Cities such as Aachen, Bielefeld, Münster, and Siegen will be directly connected to the region’s largest international airports within 30 mins, providing emission-free, high-speed connectivity at an affordable price. North Rhine-Westphalia and its airports are ideal partners for us to implement this ambitious project of the future — we are grateful to receive this support from both the Ministry and our partners at the airports to implement our vision.

The Lilium Jet

The Lilium Jet is the company’s passenger drone, which was first showed off in 2016 with a two-seater design. A couple of years later, the company showed off a five-seater design that is built for regional mobility. Lilium is currently developing the aircraft further for large-scale production and working its way through the regulatory certification process. The company hopes to have the Jet in the air by 2025 and have scaled up its operations by that time.

The Lilium Jet uses 36 single-stage electric motors to provide the drone with near-instantaneous thrust in any direction. This design removes the need for control surfaces, such as rudders and ailerons. The simple design also means the jet has a similar amount of parts to a family car, or 1,000x fewer parts than a traditional jetliner.

Photo: Lilium

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