All-Electric Jet Aircraft Coming to the City of Orlando

Lake Nona, a city sprawling with growth and prosperity just southeast of the Orlando International Airport (KMCO) will be the first hub for a brand new class of jet aircraft. Lilium, a company based out of Munich has been developing the technology for quite some time now in its ability to be vertically take-off and land. This specific niche of aircraft types are considered All-Electric, vertical take-off and landing Aircraft (eVTOL).

The City of Orlando is also backing the project, which Mayor Buddy Dyer described as an “expansion of safe, efficient and environmentally friendly transportation options throughout one of the fastest growing regions in the country”.

The announcement was made on the 11th of November officially by Lilium to open the Orlando Aerotropolis. Working with Tavistock Development Company the plans for creating the first urban and regional air mobility network will take joint efforts between the local authorities as well as federal administrations.

The objective is to create an eVTOL network in Florida with Orlando being the central hub for operations.

Demand is still difficult to guage as this will be one of the first types of aircraft in this market. Currently air travel for domestic on-demand requirements have been held exclusively to those that can afford to charter a whole aircraft.

The Goal is to begin operations in 2025 once they infrastructure of their facilities have been built and approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have been granted. The main objective for choosing this location was for the saturation of individuals in this area of Florida, With more than 20 million citizens within the range of the aircraft this means that there can be less ferry hours on each aircraft.

With the greatest cost of air travel being fuel the consumer may be more inclined to consider using this form of transportation with the idea that costs would be cheaper without the fuel costs.

An artist’s rendition of Lilium’s planned vertiport in Orlando’s Lake Nona, which it envisions as a hub for a statewide air taxi network. 
COURTESY OF LILIUM

For an aircraft to be able to take off vertically and fly a total range of around 185 miles (300km) in just a single flight that could take only 60 min this provides incredible flexibility.

For medical emergencies the vertical take off and landing capabilities would allow for the aircraft to operate into areas that would not be easily accessible for traditional fixed winged aircraft. The space requirements for creating a facility capable of serving these eVTOL’s is a fraction of that compared to fixed wing aircraft.

This is part of the reason why large cities and densely populated areas may be more attracted to this type of transportation styles.

These kind of transportation networks can also help to decongest downtown areas by encouraging individuals to live farther away from major cities. One could choose to live in a home up to 90 miles away from the city and still be able to make it to work in about 30 min.

This will help reduce congestion of cars driving in the city. As we all know cars driving in the cities use more fuel than when on highways causing greater carbon footprint impact.

Florida flying radius for Lilium jet aircraft (Lilium 2020)

“Lilium’s core mission of transport which not only supports bringing the region together, but also provides a solution to environmental issues, is incredibly impressive,” said Tavistock Managing Director Ben Weaver.

The concept as a whole would greatly work to improve the current environment impact that is a direct result of over congestion and vehicle pollution in densely populated areas.

The Five-seater jet has undergone flight test and once approved for service officially it will be able to compete with the cost of an Uber for the same distance said Chief Operating Officer Remo Gerber

The fixed-wing aircraft, powered by 36 electric engines which point down for takeoff and tilt to the rear for horizontal flight, would be steered by a qualified pilot.

“It’s a hundred times safer than helicopters. Pricing is five to 10 times cheaper,” Gerber told Reuters in an interview.

For years Orlando has been struggling to create a transportation system that is sustainable and practical for the needs of its citizens. State legislators have to make long commutes from their local cities to the state capitol of Tallahassee.

Using an electric air taxi would allow for our state representatives to be able to be present in their local communities and as well the state capitol in the same day without loosing time with their family due to long commutes.

The cost to create a vertiport can range between $1.2M – $2.4M for a basic landing zone on ground while a major rooftop vertiport can range anywhere between $8M – $18M.

Dr. Remo Gerber, Chief Operating Officer, Lilium said: “We are thrilled to partner with Tavistock and build the first stretch of Florida’s high-speed electric transportation network with Central Florida at its core. It shows that regional high-speed air mobility can be built by private initiative and give communities such as Lake Nona, which can also serve Orlando and arrivals from its international airport, the ability to determine themselves whether they want a link into a high-speed transportation network.”

Lake Nona is home to various other aviation related companies such as BBA Aviation/Signature Flight Support and SimCom Aviation Training which recently announced that its new global headquarters has plans to train 10,000 pilots a year from around the world.

City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer commented: “For this new technology to truly reshape the transportation ecosystem and benefit Orlando residents long-term, it is going to take a true partnership between cities, developers and transportation operators. We have been focused on finding the right partners to be a global leader in the advanced air mobility space. I’m thrilled that our progressive and collaborative environment has created an opportunity for this unique partnership between the City of Orlando, Lilium and Lake Nona to invest in the expansion of safe, efficient and environmentally friendly transportation options throughout one of the fastest-growing regions in the country.” -https://lilium.com/

Tavistock Managing Director Ben Weaver said: “We are delighted to partner with Lilium to create the first US network of vertiports and to launch within Lake Nona’s living lab allowing unrivaled connectivity unlike anything developed in the country to date. This partnership and network launch highlight our community’s passion and commitment to groundbreaking partnerships and new technologies that sets us apart as a city of the future. Lilium’s core mission of transport which not only supports bringing the region together, but also provides a solution to environmental issues, is incredibly impressive.” -https://lilium.com/


Investing In Air Taxi Technology?

At the time of writing this article, Lilium is currently not publicly traded in any U.S. Markets. They started operations in 2015 and there is no information available that signals any plans of going public in U.S. Markets.

Although Lilium is currently not available for retail investors that doesn’t meant that one needs to sit on the sidelines in the Air Taxi market. Companies like Boeing (BA), Uber (UBER), Toyota Motor Corporation (TIM) and Tesla (TSLA) are just a few companies developing technology in this sector. There is still plenty of competition space available for another company to enter the market head on. There is also potential for partnerships in terms of providing a service to the current operations of the industry.

Honeywell (HON) has been creating technology for tracking and maintaining operational control over electronic unmanned aircraft. These kind of systems are currently being used predominately by private contractors and government agencies. As the tools become more affordable and more available to business then we can expect to start seeing more companies adopt these technologies.

The team at Air Market Group is excited to see more aviation companies choosing to come to Orlando. The market for elective vehicles is growing exponentially and the first to the market often has a significant advantage over the others. Innovation always leads the way to new technology and as we begin to welcome the era of low flying urban aircraft we can also expect to see a greater sense of connectivity as more people will have access to these transportation methods than before.

Until then make sure to subscribe below for any market updates for the aviation industry.

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