Lilium Raises $90 Million For Electric VTOL

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Lilium, a start-up aviation company based in Munich, announced on Thursday they have raised $90 million in investment to develop the five-seat Lilium aircraft. The funding, which brings the total capital raised to $100 million, will enable the company to grow its staff to more than 70 and work toward a first manned flight in 2019. The new investment “makes Lilium one of the best-funded electric aircraft projects in the world,” said CEO Daniel Wiegand. No other company is promising the economy, speed, range and low noise levels of the Lilium Jet, Wiegand said. A remotely flown two-seat prototype flew in April, showing that it could take off vertically and then smoothly transition to horizontal flight.

The Lilium Jet will be able to travel for one hour at up to 162 knots on a single charge, the company says. Although the company refers to the powerplants as “electric jet engines,” they’re not traditional jets. According to the company website, the engines work like jets in that they suck in air, compress it and push it out the back. But the compressor fan in front is turned by an electric motor instead of a gas turbine. At the Uber Elevate conference in April, Wiegand described the engine as consisting of two bearings, a shaft and a rotor, with just one moving part.

The new investors include Tencent Holdings, a giant internet company based in China; LGT, which invests money from Lichtenstein’s royal family; Atomico, a venture firm founded by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström; and Obvious Ventures, whose co-founder Ev Williams is Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO. The company also announced recently they have recruited new senior staff from Airbus, Tesla and elsewhere to lead their growth efforts.

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