The prospect of widespread flying taxi service like the one envisioned by Lilium relies on these planes’ ability to transition seamlessly from vertical to horizontal flight, and the aerospace startup has just demonstrated a key part of that functionality. The company modified the main wing of its all-electric aircraft in the air for this purpose, achieving what it says is a first for the industry.
In order to take off and land vertically, and effectively cover significant distances in between, eVTOLs like Lilium’s must generate lift in different ways. In vertical lift and hover configuration, the company’s aircraft uses small ducted fans to gain or maintain altitude. Ideally, in forward flight mode, it would operate like a conventional aircraft, saving energy and relying on its carefully designed wings to generate lift instead.
Lilium says that although its unique small fan design consumes a lot of power during takeoff and hovering, it provides performance benefits in forward flight by minimizing drag (more on that here). Either way, transitioning between these flight modes is a key function of the overall operation, and the company has now demonstrated a key part of that capability using its Phoenix 2 demonstration aircraft.
This transition was completed on its entire main wing, with the aircraft apparently remaining stable throughout the test. This makes the plane the first-ever full-size electric jet to convert from hover to wing-borne flight, according to Lilium, which will work on the transition from canards forward while continuing its test program over the next few months. ‘summer.
“The main wing transition is a huge step forward on our path to launch and it validates our flight dynamics model,” said Lilium co-founder Matthias Meiner. “All credit goes to the outstanding team at Lilium who have worked so hard to get us here, and who remain focused on the rest of the flight test campaign.
Here is an explanation of the transition from Phoenix Chief Engineer Matthais Meiner:
What is Transition?