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These Luxe eVTOLs Will Be Flying Over Texas by 2025

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Five Texans could soon be the first pilots flying luxury eVTOLs in the U.S. German eVTOL maker Lilium announced a deal with Houston-based EMCJET to become its first dealer. The agreement specifies that EMCJET will have five production slots of its Pioneer model, so the company will have the world’s first private electric jets.

“We started with Texas because we see it as a cluster,” said Matthew Broffman, Lilium’s head of partnerships and network in the Americas, noting that metro areas like Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and Houston could be connected with small towns and outlying areas in other parts of the state that regional jet services do not reach.

Since it takes off vertically like a helicopter and flies like an airplane, Lilium’s single-pilot, seven-seat Pioneer is designed to land at both airports and heliports. It can also access small, remote airfields.

Lilium Pioneer edition

The seven-seat Pioneer edition was designed with a high-end client in mind.

Lilium Jet

Priced at $10 million, the special-edition Pioneer is the company’s luxe model, designed to be customized with different interior modules specified by the clients. Broffman says that the only difference between European and U.S. models is the shape of the plug that charges the aircraft.

The Pioneer has a projected cruise speed of 175 mph and range of about 155 miles between charges. The 30-fan design across the aircraft is unique among eVTOLs, providing redundancy, according to Lilium, in case one set of fans fails. The electric Pioneer is also quieter than a traditional aircraft, with zero carbon emissions.

Unlike most of its competitors, Lilium opted to start selling aircraft to the private market rather than create a network of air taxis such as Joby Aviation and Archer, two U.S. startups considered leaders in the advanced air mobility (AAM) sector. “Part of the reason we chose Texas was because of its extensive airport infrastructure,” says Broffman. “We can get into these places without disrupting air space or airports. We can use existing facilities by just adding some charging stations.”

eVTOL Lilium Pioneer Jet

The Pioneer has a retail price of $10 million.

Lilum Jet

Besides selling the aircraft, EMCJET will provide maintenance and other services for the eVTOL fleet, just as it does with the traditional business jets under its management. Lilium will provide technical and other support.

Phase two, after setting up a dealer base, includes establishing infrastructure to become a regional provider in other regions. The network first announced three years ago between Orlando, Tampa, and South Florida is being developed, said Broffman, with plans to bring it online a year after the first private jets arrive. “All the providers are thinking about building networks that will require infrastructure in urban environments.”

Lilium expects type certification for its aircraft in 2025, and the first models will arrive to the U.S. shortly after that. The company had originally forecasted 2024 as the certification year. The abrupt change in plans caused an uproar, with some analysts faulting the aircraft’s multi-fan design and others saying Lilium’s estimates of future battery technologies were overly optimistic.

eVTOL Lilium Pioneer

The vertical takeoff and landing capability means the Pioneer can access small airfields.

Lilium Jet

Currently, the German firm is testing its aircraft at a facility in Spain, without pilots. Joby and Archer are also testing their aircraft in California, as is Vertical Aerospace in the U.K. Joby announced its first set of piloted flights recently.

Lilium plans to find other “clusters” in the U.S. and establish regional dealers. “Dealers and aircraft management companies are eager to partner with Lilium on jet sales to . . . provide an elevated flying experience, all while being incredibly efficient to operate,” said Sebastien Borel, Lilium’s chief commercial officer, in a statement.

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