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Air taxi startup Lilium's first U.S. hub to be in Florida

Wed 11th November, 2020 3:00pm
* Vertihub near Orlando airport to start operations in 2025
    * More than 20 million Floridians within range
    * Lilium Jet trip will cost the same as an Uber - company

    By Douglas Busvine
    BERLIN, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Flying taxi startup Lilium will
set up its first U.S. hub near Orlando, putting more than 20
million Floridians within range of the winged electric aircraft
that can take off vertically and cover 300 km (185 miles) in a
single one-hour hop.
    Munich-based Lilium said on Wednesday its first U.S.
Vertiport would be at Lake Nona, a futuristic smart city being
built near Orlando International Airport by the Tavistock
Development Group.
    The hub, due to start operations in 2025, would be Lilium's
second after a similar Vertiport planned in Duesseldorf, capital
of Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
    Startups are racing to develop, certify and manufacture
electric aircraft in a bid to revolutionise short-range travel.
Five-year old Lilium - with $375 million in investor funding -
is one of the best backed.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2BG2VH
    Its five-seater Lilium Jet has undergone flight tests and,
if approved for service, would offer travellers a way to skip
traffic and quickly reach their destinations for around the cost
of an Uber, said Chief Operating Officer Remo Gerber.
    The fixed-wing aircraft, powered by 36 electric engines
which point down for takeoff and tilt to the rear for horizontal
flight, would be steered by a qualified pilot.
    "It's a hundred times safer than helicopters. Pricing is
five to 10 times cheaper," Gerber told Reuters in an interview.
    Power use for distance covered is similar to electric
vehicles while, because there is no runway, the cost of a
Vertiport https://lilium.com/newsroom-detail/designing-a-scalable-vertiport
 is far lower than a traditional airport, ranging from 1-2
million euros for a basic landing zone to 7-15 million euros
($8-$18 million) for a major rooftop hub.
    "Lilium's core mission of transport which not only supports
bringing the region together, but also provides a solution to
environmental issues, is incredibly impressive," said Tavistock
Managing Director Ben Weaver.
    The City of Orlando is also backing the project, which Mayor
Buddy Dyer described as an "expansion of safe, efficient and
environmentally friendly transportation options throughout one
of the fastest growing regions in the country".
    ($1 = 0.8490 euros)

 (Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Mark Potter)
 ((douglas.busvine@tr.com; +49 30 220 133 562;))
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