Lilium chooses Orlando for first U.S. vertiport
Lilium of Munich, Germany, is partnering with the City of Orlando and Tavistock Development to establish a vertiport for what could become the first urban and regional air mobility network in the United States. Vertiport locations in the state are subject to approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and other regulatory agencies.
Co-founded in 2015 by four engineers, Lilium focuses on the development of electric-powered aircraft like its Lilium Jet and related services. The five-seat Lilium Jet was unveiled in May 2019 with 36 all-electric engines mounted on its flaps. With progressive flight testing underway, the aircraft remains subject to certification with company’s home regulator in the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), as well as the FAA.
Employing more than 600 people, Lilium has attracted more than US$375 million in funding from world-class investors like Atomico, Tencent, Baillie Gifford, LGT, Freigeist and Obvious Ventures.
Lilium expects its first U.S.-based hub location in Lake Nona, Florida, to launch by 2025, which mirrors the company’s existing timeline for entering the Lilium Jet into service. The company explains Lake Nona’s central location provides an opportunity to connect more than 20 million Floridians within a 186-mile radius, serving several major cities like Orlando and Tampa. The Lake Nona vertiport will create more than 100 jobs in the Orlando area, states Lilium, with hundreds more to follow across Florida.
Lilium explains its planned Florida network forms part of its vision of bringing regional air mobility to locations across the globe. The Lilium Jet aircraft, according to the company, can travel up to 186 miles (300 km) within one hour on a single charge.
“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,” said Dr. Remo Gerber, Chief Operating Officer, Lilium, who notes the vertiport can also serve arrivals from Orlando’s international airport.”
Lilium explains the Orlando International Airport is the origination site of more than half of the region’s 75 million annual visitors, providing both the economy and transportation infrastructure to support the U.S. launch of electric air mobility.
Lilium’s Lake Nona vertiport would be based in what has been labelled as Orlando’s Aerotropolis, structured around the city’s international airport area holding a range of aviation companies and services. Lake Nona itself is home to BBA Aviation/Signature Flight Support and SimCom Aviation Training. Lilium notes SimCom recently announced the creation of a new global headquarters that will train approximately 10,000 pilots each year.
“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,” said City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “We have been focused on finding the right partners to be a global leader in the advanced air mobility space.”