Germany’s Lilium shows off all-electric VTOL airplane – but how far will it go?
Lilium’s all-electric prototype airplane looks impressive as it makes a vertical takeoff and landing in a demonstration video released today – but will the concept fly as a commercial aircraft? The jury is still out. The German-made two-seater relies on the lift from 36 small electric fans (not jet engines) to rise from the ground and then fly horizontally like an airplane. This month’s test, conducted in a field near Munich, was remote-controlled without a crew, and it’s not clear whether the battery-powered system has enough oomph to provide the kind of air taxi service that the Lilium team envisions. Lilium’s backers include Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström. For more about the venture, check out Wired’s report. And for an alternate take on electric-powered aviation, check out our report on Zunum Aero.