US startup operator UrbanLink intends to be “the first airline in the US to integrate eVTOL [electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft] into its fleet,” having signed a firm purchase order with German developer Lilium for 20 of its Lilium Jets. The order, which includes an option for a further 20 units, also includes scheduled pre-delivery payments.

Drawing on his recent experience as founder and CEO of rapidly-expanding charter airline GlobalX, UrbanLink leader Ed Wengel highlights that “while many airlines have discussed the potential of operating eVTOL aircraft, none have made a firm commitment”. He added that “after thorough evaluation of various manufacturers, [UrbanLink] found the Lilium Jet to be the optimal choice for [its] needs, thanks to its superior cabin design, range, capacity, and cost-effectiveness”.

The fixed-wing, tailless, canard-configuration Lilium jet can be configured for between four and six passengers. It employs a lift-and-cruise model featuring proprietary ducted electric vectored thrust technology, with electric jet engines integrated into the wing flaps providing “advantages in payload, aerodynamic efficiency and a lower noise profile,” according to its manufacturer.

The first piloted test flight of the aircraft is scheduled to occur in late 2024, with UrbanLink targeting a service launch date of 2026; connecting major cities such as Miami, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale.

“We believe that this purchase of eVTOL aircraft is the first by a commercial operator that isn’t invested in the manufacturer that it is purchasing from,” added Sebastien Borel, Lilium’s chief commercial officer. “This is a huge milestone, not only for Lilium, but the commercialisation of eVTOLs in the US”. He concluded that this order serves as “a sign that the market for eVTOL aircraft has matured and there is growing demand for aircraft that can provide connections between, rather than just within, cities”.
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