Lilium has partnered with Texas-based aircraft brokerage EMCJET to offer its Lilium Jet for sale to private customers in the U.S., part of the company’s strategy to use premium sales as a stepping stone before entering the commercial mass market.
Under the partnership, EMCJET will be the exclusive Lilium dealer for private sales in Texas through 2030. The arrangement includes an initial commitment for five delivery slots for the five-seater Lilium Jet Pioneer Edition, the limited-edition luxury variant aimed at business travelers and other private individuals.
Initial sales will focus on customers in : Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
“They’ve secured slots with us to make sure they can deliver to their end customers, and we’re going to be supporting them with the network development to make sure they have the right destinations and landing sites,” Lilium Chief Commercial Officer Sebastien Borel tells the AAM Report. “It’s really about supporting a great partner who has great connections in Texas, where there is a lot of demand for mobility and there’s a lot of demand for sustainable aircraft.”
Network development will be key to persuading customers to opt for Lilium’s eVTOL jet, which will require vertiport and charging infrastructure, Borel says.
“The work consists of identifying the points of interest, whether it’s golf resorts or simply an office downtown, and making sure the charging and other infrastructure is in place so we can serve it,” Borel explains. “If you can only go from A to B, you’re not going to be very interested in our aircraft but if you have five, six or more destinations that you can go to regularly and create time savings, then it quickly becomes very interesting.”
Lilium sees the premium aviation segment—whether private sales, charter services or fractional ownership—as an ideal starting point to help get early revenues in the door via pre-delivery deposits while it works to establish itself as a mass-market commercial transport company.
Borel notes that around 25% of missions on private aircraft and helicopters fall within the Lilium Jet’s 250-km (155-mi.) range and observes that future Lilium Jet generations with stronger batteries should enable doubling of the range by 2030, by which point the aircraft will be an optimal mobility solution for premium travelers.
“While the majority of the market is not in the private sales sector, we believe the private and premium market in general is a very healthy and steady business which will continue,” Borel says. “Starting that way makes it easy to introduce the aircraft and will help us get the technology out there while preparing us for the mass market, which takes a bit more time from an ATC, regulatory and infrastructure point of view.”
The partnership announcement with EMCJET comes as Lilium continues working on its full-scale Lilium Jet prototype, having begun fuselage assembly in early September in partnership with Aciturri. The company also recently announced completion of the aircraft’s first high-voltage electrical harnesses, developed and built in collaboration with GKN and Rosenberger.
The aircraft is to be the first of seven that Lilium plans to build as part of its testing and certification program. While there likely will be slight evolutions and variations between the aircraft, they all are expected to mostly reflect the design of the final production-conforming version, according to Borel.
“The seven aircraft we’re building will have some differences, but the overall architecture, engines, cockpit will be exactly the same components you’ll find in the production aircraft,” he says.
The company is targeting final assembly of the first aircraft toward year-end, a process that is expected to be complete around the second quarter of 2024, according to Borel.
First manned flight is expected at the end of next year, with type certification targeted for late 2025 with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and validation shortly after with the FAA.