Lilum already has a full-scale prototype that has completed its first flight.
It turns out that Jetsons-like “flying cars” may eventually become a reality.
Lilium, a company developing these vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) jets, has already built a full-scale prototype, which it flew for the first time in April. Now, the Europe-based company is working on building out the business for these futuristic jets.
To do that, Lilium has brought in two executives to help scale the company as it prepares to explore commercial applications for its VTOL aircrafts. The first is Remo Gerber, who has been hired to be Lilium’s chief commercial officer. Gerber, who has a background in physics, previously headed up ride-hail company Gett’s Western European arm.
Gerber’s experience managing a ride-hail business lends itself to Lilium’s long-term plan of working with partners to create an on-demand network of VTOL jets. (Yes, Uber for flying cars.)
Ideally, cities would put up landing pads where a passenger can hail and then ride in a VTOL jet. Think of it like a helipad for helicopters. The difference is that VTOL jets use propulsion to take off and land, so the idea is that it should be much quieter than a helicopter.
You can see more on how the jet actually takes off here:
Since the company is only two years old and has yet to staff up its executive ranks, Gerber will also be handling responsibilities usually held by a CFO or COO, such as investor relations and finances.
Gerber said the company is laser-focused on bringing its vehicles to market; he will also continue discussions the company has already begun with potential commercial partners and regulators.
“The industry is really waking up,” Gerber told Recode. “People are starting to get excited about this.”
“[What is] quite unique about Lilium [is] we have a full-size prototype flying,” he said. “We are looking at a situation where we have a team of incredibly talented engineers that have proven that it is possible to create an aircraft that can take off and land vertically. Ultimately, we are very clearly looking into the future, we are thinking about how we are going to market.”
While Lilium will be turning to partners to commercialize its flying cars, the company will manufacture them in-house. Lilium has brought on Dirk Gebser, the former VP of assembly for two Airbus models and former director of manufacturing engineering at Rolls-Royce. Gebser is joining as vice president of production as the company prepares to meet its 2019 deadline of launching its first manned flight.
Lilium is certainly not the only company with ambitions for a flying car service. The company, which has raised $11.4 million from VC firms Atomico and e42 Ventures, is also competing against a Larry Page-backed company called Kitty Hawk and others.
Uber has talked about its own flying-car ambitions, which entail developing the on-demand platform that these jets will operate on. The ride-hail company is shooting to demonstrate its network of flying cars in Dubai and Texas by 2020.
The flying-car space is moving quickly past the prototype phase in an attempt to bring these new forms of transportation to market.