Orlando International Airport (MCO) is to serve as the hub for Lilium’s planned eVTOL air services in central Florida. In an announcement on February 8, the European manufacturer said that operators of its six-passenger Lilium Jet will be able to use a new vertiport at the airport as a hub for flights across the state.
Lilium’s plans at MCO build on its 2020 announcement with the City of Orlando and the nearby Lake Nona community that it intends to launch U.S. services in Florida. The company said that airports group Ferrovial is its preferred partner for the vertiport project, but that the final decision as to who builds and operates the facility will be made by the airport's management team.
The company has expressed support for a bill currently proceeding through the state legislature to make the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority an officially designated test site for advanced air mobility services. Lilium’s previously announced plans envisage regional flights across a radius of around 185 miles to connect cities including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Sarasota, Naples, and Fort Myers. Rival eVTOL aircraft developers Archer and Eve Air Mobility have also announced plans to establish services in South Florida.
House Bill 981 is being proposed by State Reps. Doug Bankson (District 39) and Fiona McFarland (District 73), who is chair of the Florida House Transportation and Modals subcommittee. Supporters hope the precedent set for eVTOL infrastructure in the Orlando area will establish a blueprint for rolling out facilities in other communities.
“Building a vertiport at the major hub airport will ultimately enhance regional mobility by increasing passenger access and connectivity while allowing multiple operators to use the facility and share in the cost,” said Lilium’s chief commercial officer, Sebastien Borel. The Orlando area attracts approximately 80 million visitors each year.
Germany-based Lilium is working toward achieving EASA and FAA type certification in late 2025. Prospective U.S. operators for the Lilium Jet include fractional ownership provider NetJets and helicopter group Bristow.