The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Lilium Starts eVTOL Final Assembly and Partners with Lufthansa

Lilium this week started producing a full-scale airframe of its six-passenger eVTOL vehicle, with the arrival of the first complete fuselage at its final assembly line at Wessling in Germany. The aircraft is the first of seven that will be used for the flight test campaign due to start in late 2024 for the EASA type certification campaign the company hopes will lead to service entry in 2026.

The first fuselage arrived in Germany from Valladolid, Spain, where Lilium’s program partner, Aciturri, is manufacturing the composite structures. Other key suppliers, including electric propulsion system partners Honeywell, Denso, Aerononamic, and SKF, as well as aerostructures specialist Aernnova, are ramping up production rates for the Lilium Jet’s parts and systems.

On Thursday, Lilium and German airline Lufthansa signed a memorandum of understanding covering a  strategic partnership to explore commercial eVTOL aircraft operations in Europe. The partners will focus on areas including ground and flight operations, aircraft maintenance, crew requirements, and flight training. In the future, the collaboration may be widened to include other partners, such as airports, airspace integration specialists, and vertiport operators.

Lufthansa, which operates more than 700 airliners, is developing a long-term strategy to reduce carbon emissions. According to Lilium, there could be demand for around 9,200 eVTOL vehicles in Europe through 2035.

"Innovation is part of our DNA," commented Detlef Kayser, the Lufthansa board member responsible for fleet and technology. "The Lufthansa Group has been at the forefront of some of Europe's most important aviation initiatives, especially in the area of environmental sustainability. We are thrilled to explore opportunities for bringing eVTOL flights to Lufthansa Group customers."

First Lilium Jet Fuselage Takes Shape 

In a December 6 announcement, Lilium said the next step will be for the first fuselage to be integrated with the canard and wings that also incorporate the aircraft’s 30 ducted electric engines. Lilium’s 175,000-sq-ft facility at Wessling in southern Germany houses the final assembly line, a propulsion and aerostructures area, and a testing and manufacturing hub.

On November 27, EASA issued Lilium its design organization approval, which is required as part of the certification process under the European agency’s SC-VTOL rules. The approval confirms that Lilium’s organization, procedures, and capabilities meet the safety and regulatory standards for the development of commercial aircraft under Part 21 rules. In June, the FAA issued Lilium its G-1 approval as part of its type certification process.

“I’d like to pay tribute not only to all Lilians but also to the support and commitment of each of our suppliers and partners,” said Lilium COO Yves Yemsi. “The progress made in designing and building the fuselage, canard, and wings is a testament to the quality of collaboration with our aerostructures suppliers, Aciturri and Aernnova. This once again confirms that our approach of teaming with proven aerospace suppliers is the optimal strategy as we advance along a path to certification and entry into service of the Lilium Jet.”

The Lilium Jet is expected to operate flights of up to 175 kilometers (109 miles) at speeds of 250 km/h. The standard model will have six passenger seats, while the special Pioneer Edition will offer a more spacious four-seat cabin.

Lilium has already conducted flight testing on a smaller-scale technology demonstrator called the Phoenix 2 at the Atlas Flight Test Center in Spain. In September 2022, it achieved full transition between vertical and horizontal phases of flight.