Lilium’s all-electric prototype airplane looks impressive as it makes a vertical takeoff and landing in a demonstration video – but will the concept fly as a commercial aircraft? The jury is still out. The German-made two-seater relies on the lift from 36 small electric fans (not jet engines) to rise from the ground and then fly horizontally like an airplane. This month’s test, conducted in a field near Munich, was remote-controlled without a crew, and it’s not clear whether the battery-powered system has enough oomph to provide the kind of air taxi service that the Lilium team envisions. Lilium’s backers include Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström. For more about the venture, check out Wired’s report. And for an alternate take on electric-powered aviation, check out our report on Zunum Aero.
Update for 1:50 p.m. May 16, 2019: Lilium has removed the two-seater demonstration video, but here’s a video showing off the new five-seater version of its eVTOL. Like the two-seater, the beefed-up Lilium Jet bristles with 36 electric fans. And like the 2017 test flight, this month’s demo was conducted by remote control. But the fact that Lilium’s aircraft can accommodate more passengers betters its chances. Wired quotes Lilium co-founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand as saying the company is planning an on-demand air taxi service in just a few years.