Sebastian Borel, Vice President of Business for Lilium, says the emerging advanced air sector must create real value for the travelling public as well as solving ground transportation issues.
Borel, a former pilot who has spent 22 years working with major industry players, in within air traffic management and infrastructure development admitted to feeling jaded prior to joining Lilium in November. “To be frank with you, I almost wanted to quit the industry. After so many years, you want something new, but the urban air mobility became the new thing.”
He added: “The point for me was to bring my experience to that market because it’s definitely writing history and I wanted to be part of it.”
During Borel’s decade with Airbus, the company created fly by wire, but he said the emergence of the AAM sector would have an even bigger impact on both the sector and on the world.
“A massive impact on the world”
He explained: “This is changing world mobility and some of the countries we’re talking to are just betting on what we’re going to be developing to change literally their tourism industry, their sustainability. It will have a massive impact on the world”
Borel said the Lilium jet stood out within the aviation sector because it was focused on the regional aviation market. He explained: “If you look at all of the different eVTOLs being developed today, there are great technologies. We decided to go for true jet with jet engines that gives us really the ability to fly fast and to go far.”
He believed it would be easier to establish AAM within the regional sector which would enhance the existing transportation infrastructures as well as being easier to implement. Borel explained that regional aviation would require less need for additional regulation and safety issues than UAM, which would see aircraft flying over cities.
Regional aviation market will be transformed
“When we come to advanced air systems in general, you’re going to create a lot more value, in our opinion, in those longer, I would say 200km, route rather than 10 km. The 10 km, you really tackle the ground traffic issues, but the 200 km you actually connect cities that we could not connect before.”
“You would think that there are high-speed trains all over the world – there aren’t – it’s really expensive and it takes a lot of land, so eVTOL brings everything that those people have been waiting for years because they are behind the next valley or there is water in between, or there is a mountain in between and no trains. You can now fix that with eVTOL, so it changes dramatically.”
He added Lilium’s jet would also have the cabin capacity to help connect cities quickly or enable connections which previously could not be served by land-based transport. He said: “What we have on top of range is capacity, because you need to make it economical and if you can only transport two passengers it’s not going to help out. That’s going to be the same price as a helicopter but we have a cabin that can accommodate up to six people. We’ve just announced two various configurations one for the six shuttle version for high capacity shuttle services high frequency and the four club sitting configuration for the more premium and on-demand type of businesses.”
Borel welcomed the return of the Global Urban Advanced Air Summit (GUAAS) to Farnborough adding that it would help bring the industry together. He said collaboration would be key to getting the emerging market off the ground. “Essentially, we’re going to have to work together. I deeply believe that working together will actually help us out in regards to the capital expenditure, the infrastructure and those kind of elements that give us the opportunity to do this.”