German air taxi startup Lilium has announced the first test flight of its full-scale, all-electric five-seater air taxi.
The company, which has built the jet-powered flying car, flew an unmanned test flight of its vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) system earlier this month.
It was the latest in a series of successful tests from various companies in the electric flight industry indicating that we could be seeing flying cars in the skies soon.
The jet has 36 engines which allow it to take off vertically, and has a maximum top speed of 80mph (300 kmph) and a range of 80 miles.
According to the tech firm, its flying taxi would allow users to travel from London to Manchester in less than an hour.
The Lilium jet, which can operate with a pilot or in drone mode, is a relatively simple design – with no tail, no rudder, no propellers and no gearbox.
This has allowed the design team to focus on more passenger-friendly features, including panoramic windows and gull-wing doors.
They hope to have a fleet of the systems flying in cities worldwide by 2025, providing a flying taxi service, similar to Uber.
Passengers would book a taxi from a local landing strip or purpose-built landing pad, to fly them on short haul trips, according to the firm.
In a video provided by the company, Lilium’s unpiloted aircraft can be seen taking off vertically like a helicopter, hovering briefly, and then landing.
Although it may seem liek a small step, the successful flight already pust them much farther than many of its competitors who are also building electric aircraft.
‘We have been working on this test for the last 20 months,’ said Remo Gerber, chief commercial officer at Lilium.
‘Just on the take off and landing. What will come next is a test flight programme that will put it through its paces to get certified.’
Mr Gerber would not provide any details about the jets weight capacity, but he insisted that it will eventually be able to carry five passengers and a pilot.
Lilium’s ‘payload ratio is industry-leading, and that’s what is going to make the difference,’ he told the Verge.
The firm claim to have built aircraft in under two years, having grown its team from just 30 people in 2017 to more than 300.
This follows an injection of $90m (£70m) from investing giants such as China’s Tencent and venture capital firm Atomico.
Other companies are also looking to launch their own flying taxi service.
Uber has promised it will launch a fleet of air taxis in a pilot project in Dallas and Los Angeles by 2023 and Boeing is also building its own electric flying taxi aircraft.