Another investment in the future of aviation continued this week when Lilium Aviation announced a successful round of funding, led by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings and at least four other groups. When added to the initial funding the German company Lilium has already received, the company’s investment kitty now tops the $100M mark. The company expects the fresh investment money will spur additional research and development efforts for the company’s five-seat, electrically powered jet taxi.
Lilium wants to create air taxis capable of short, high-speed flights, something the company expects will become a reality within the next 10 years. When paired with a smartphone app, Lilium wants to make ordering a flying cab as easy as making a phone call. Lilium’s two-seat Eagle prototype successfully completed its maiden flight in April.
The company’s Eagle prototype, an electrically-powered jet, takes off and lands like a helicopter, while the larger five-seat, air-taxi craft is expected to carry as many as five people over distances of nearly 200 nm at speeds approaching 210 mph.
Lilium was founded in 2015 by four graduates of the Technical University of Munich who set out to design a more efficient jet-powered air taxi than competing airframes, eliminating the now-traditional use of quad-copter technology. The company hopes the latest round of funding will also help expand its current 70-person workforce that includes people hired recently from Tesla, Airbus and Gett.