Lilium, a company who just revealed in a youtube video its first test flight of their 5 seater VTOL jet, was tweeted by Elon Musk to have a very interesting design. VTOL is a term coined to represent a new specific types of aircraft with the function of vertical takeoff and landing. In the video, we see the Lilium team who are gathered together to watch the aircraft take off 10 to 15 feet in the air.
In Elon Musk’s tweet, he referred to the design of the aircraft and only about the design due to the fact that Lilium demonstrated that it is in its earliest stage. When Elon Musk was asked if he has a design of his own, he replied, “…. been thinking about it for a long time. Electric supersonic VTOL. Hard problem.” Although the comment may seem sarcastic because of his reference to the word “supersonic” , VTOL taxis may be something Elon Musk may be brushing off, for now. The VTOL taxi industry is a very real industry, and many other companies already have functioning VTOL taxis in the works.
Lilium is only one of many companies inserting themselves in the air taxi industry. With the spread of a strong network infrastructure like 5g, out of view drones and planes, will not be the only aircrafts using an airspace system like LAANC, Low Altitude Authorization and Control system provided by the FAA.
Many companies around the world are planning to insert themselves in the airspace of VTOL aircrafts. Uber’s VTOL company, Uberair, hired 5 companies to deploy VTOL taxis in 3 to 4 years. Uber currently hired Aurora Flight Sciences, Karem, Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer and Bell Helicopter to fleet its Uberair VTOL taxi business.
The FAA has never been so busy with certification approvals, as they are not only dealing with airplanes and helicopters anymore. In the peripheral future, the FAA will play a crucial role in what our sky might look like.