Lilium Aviation, of Munich, says it has flown a prototype of its all-electric VTOL tilt-engine aircraft that the company says will fly 160 knots in horizontal thrust configuration with a range of 180 miles. A video provided by the company of the first flight shows the aircraft, with what looks like a spacious automotive-style cabin, autonomously taking off vertically, turning tightly and transitioning to aerodynamic flight before landing vertically. There has been no independent confirmation that the video is an accurate rendition of the flight but if it’s all real then it appears some breakthroughs have been made by the company, which is reportedly backed by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom. “We have solved some of the toughest engineering challenges in aviation to get to this point,” the company said in a statement.
They call it a “jet” but it’s powered by 36 electric-powered ducted fans, 24 on rotating “flaps” on the wings and six on each of the tubular canards ahead of the cabin. According to some reports, the motors have a total of 430 horsepower and the main technological breakthrough is in the batteries. The company will have a chance to celebrate, and explain, its milestone at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas this week. CEO Daniel Wiegand will be a panelist at the eVTOL Developer Concept and Technologies discussion at the meeting.