Ray of hope

Ray of hope

The all-electric, vertical take-off and landing Lilium Jet has completed initial flight testing, with its design inspired by nature

Some of the greatest manmade designs have been inspired by the majesty of nature. From architecture to airplanes, copying designs that have evolved, improved and endured in the natural world simply makes sense. But unusually for an aircraft, the stunning Lilium Jet drew its inspiration from the seas.

“A great deal of my inspiration came from the manta ray, one of nature’s most majestic creatures. The way it glides almost magically through the water was something we wanted to emulate with the Lilium Jet, delivering a sense of calm elegance and minimalist design,” said Mathis Cosson, who was just 23 when he designed the aircraft.

“We wanted to break with traditional aerospace design and deliver something the world had never seen before.”

The resulting all-electric Lilium Jet is the world’s first five-seater, all-electric, vertical take-off and landing jet. Unveiled in May 2019, it can fly 300km in one hour on a single charge, and is being touted as a zero-emissions air taxi.

The Munich-based startup has celebrated completing its first phase of flight testing. Footage released by the company shows the aircraft transitioning from vertical flight to level flight – one of aerospace’s greatest challenges.

The company has also completed its first dedicated manufacturing facility, with the aim of producing hundreds of aircraft a year by the time commercial services begin in 2025.

Airbus veteran Yves Yemsi has joined the team as Chief Program Officer, having worked as Head of Program Quality for the Airbus A350 aircraft.

Lilium’s design team, led by co-founder Patrick Nathen, is also home to Frank Stephenson, who previously led the design of cars such as the new MINI and the McLaren P1.

The Lilium Jet is already winning awards, including the prestigious Red Dot Design Award in 2019 for Design Concept.

Commenting on the award, Daniel Wiegand, Lilium co-founder and CEO said: “While we fell in love with the Lilium Jet before it even left the drawing board, we are humbled to have had its beauty recognised and validated through this award.

“We are immensely proud of what Mathis and the wider team have achieved. It just goes to show that you don’t need decades of experience, or a huge company behind you, to do something remarkable.

“Our focus is now on delivering our goal of having the Lilium Jet delighting customers in various regions around the world by 2025.”