Tom Enders, the former CEO of Airbus, is joining the board of directors for German electric air taxi developer Lilium after being asked to take the position by the startup’s co-founder a few months ago, he revealed in a Jan. 11 blog.
Enders, who exited his position at Airbus in April 2019, provides a big vote of confidence to the future electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) plans of Lilium, based on his experience helping the French airframe manufacturer launch the A320neo and serving as CEO from 2012 to 2019–a period where the company saw a major expansion in commercial airliner sales. The new appointment of Enders to Lilium’s board comes two months after the Munich-based eVTOL maker’s Nov. 11 announcement of its new electric air mobility network in Orlando, Florida.
Lilium has also made several other leadership and operational advancements since the Orlando announcement, including the appointment of Geoffrey Richardson as their Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and a new pilot training partnership with Lufthansa Aviation.
“Perhaps the thing that has impressed me most about Lilium was that they started with a strong business case and focused from the start on intercity shuttle flights, which allow for higher passenger load factors. I believe with this Lilium is solving the problem of notoriously low load-factors in on-demand air-taxi businesses of the past. It will also help to get ticket prices down and truly democratize electric flight, following Lilium’s mission,” Enders writes in his blog.
The former Airbus CEO also highlighted Lilium’s engineers and their use of electric turbofans. “This is the same propulsion system that propels 95 percent of all commercial airliners today and it gives Lilium the same advantages: lower noise emissions than open propellers, higher customer acceptance, and a smaller aircraft footprint,” he writes in the blog.
Lilium is targeting 2025 for entry of its jet into service, offering up to four passengers a green way to travel up to 186 miles in one hour, according to the company. Their jet aircraft eliminates control surfaces as well as “oil circuits and gearboxes you would find in a typical aircraft,” with 36 single-stage electric motors providing near-instantaneous thrust in almost any direction, according to the Lilium Jet design page.
“Clearly, the idea of air taxis is not entirely new – it goes back more than 50 years. Demonstrators had already been built back then,” Enders writes. “But only now are all the conditions in place to turn this long-held vision into a technical and economic reality: battery technology, digitization, high-performance computers and artificial intelligence, high-precision navigation, advanced materials, and miniaturization, to name just the most important developments.”
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