Five Texans could soon be the first pilots flying luxury eVTOLs in the U.S. German eVTOL maker Lilium announced a deal with Houston-based EMCJET to become its first dealer. The agreement specifies that EMCJET will have five production slots of its Pioneer model, so the company will have the world's first private electric jets.
"We started with Texas because we see it as a cluster," said Matthew Broffman, Lilium's head of partnerships and network in the Americas, noting that metro areas like Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and Houston could be connected with small towns and outlying areas in other parts of the state that regional jet services do not reach.
Since it takes off vertically like a helicopter and flies like an airplane, Lilium's single-pilot, seven-seat Pioneer is designed to land at both airports and heliports. It can also access small, remote airfields.
Priced at $10 million, the special-edition Pioneer is the company's luxe model, designed to be customized with different interior modules specified by the clients. Broffman says that the only difference between European and U.S. models is the shape of the plug that charges the aircraft.
The Pioneer has a projected cruise speed of 175 mph and range of about 155 miles between charges. The 30-fan design across the aircraft is unique among eVTOLs, providing redundancy, according to Lilium, in case one set of fans fails. The electric Pioneer is also quieter than a traditional aircraft, with zero carbon emissions.
Unlike most of its competitors, Lilium opted to start selling aircraft to the private market rather than create a network of air taxis such as Joby Aviation and Archer, two U.S. startups considered leaders in the advanced air mobility (AAM) sector. "Part of the reason we chose Texas was because of its extensive airport infrastructure," says Broffman. "We can get into these places without disrupting air space or airports. We can use existing facilities by just adding some charging stations."