Story at a glance
- The city of Orlando and German company Lilium plan to create the first aircraft ride service.
- Lilium aims to set up a broader U.S. transportation network by 2025.
A new partnership between the city of Orlando, Fl., and German aviation company Lilium inked a deal on Wednesday to develop the first U.S. transportation location for the first flying taxi service.
CNBC reports that the “vertiport” site will be in Lake Nona, which is set to become an innovative “smart city” near the Orlando International Airport. It is being developed by local Florida company Tavistock Development.
The business model ultimately seeks to mimic Uber as a ride-hailing service, but instead featuring aircraft. Lilium’s signature jet model, which can hit speeds of around 300 kilometers/186 miles per hour, is designed with two parallel wings and 36 electric engines and is piloted remotely.
Lilium aims to launch a full U.S. transportation network by 2025, pending approval by the Federal Aviation Administration and other regulatory agencies.
Pricing has not been released, but the CEO Remo Gerber compared it to flying business class.
Forbes notes that the company’s flight-testing program had been stalled due to a fire within the company that obliterated the initial prototype during maintenance, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated launch efforts.
“Over time, we are very committed on creating a more affordable mode of transportation,” Gerber told reporters Wednesday. “We sometimes even go as far as to say five to 10 years post-launch, it is entirely conceivable it might actually come down to a price point similar to driving your own car.”
Lilium’s first vertiport was approved in Germany in September. It is expected to create about 100 jobs in Orlando.