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German company Lilium produces flying electric passenger drones.


Lilium, a German air taxi firm, has received regulatory approval to design and operate its electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles, the company said Monday.

Lilium was awarded “Design Organization Approval” by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, a special condition license that grants the company the ability to design and manufacture its aircraft in lieu of formal rules for the industry having been agreed and implemented.

Alastair McIntosh, Lilium’s chief technology officer and head of design organization, said the approval is effectively a “license to operate” for the firm.

“Receiving Design Organization Approval from EASA further motivates us on our path to commercialize the revolutionary Lilium Jet,” McIntosh said in a statement Monday.

Luc Tytgat, acting executive director of the EU agency, said it was “setting the right rules for operations and taking care of the environmental elements including noise, while of course ensuring that high safety standards are met.”

“At the same time, we are wary of creating barriers to entering this new market and we have worked in partnership with Lilium, against a demanding timeline. I would like to congratulate Lilium on achieving this Design Organization Approval, which advances Europe’s electric aviation activity,” he added.

It’s a key milestone for the industry, which has been working for several years to get such vehicles ready for commercialization.

Flying cars have long been the stuff of fiction. From “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” to “The Jetsons” and “Blade Runner,” popular culture has been filled with the idea of cars taking to the skies for decades.

Technologists and venture capitalists have over recent years pumped billions of dollars into ventures aiming to produce flying taxis — as yet with little tangible success.

In Lilium’s case, its vehicles are skewed more toward domestic intercity travel rather than flights across countries. The Lilium Jet uses multiple small propellers driven by electric motors to provide lift during takeoff and landing, as well as thrust during the cruise phase.

Once ready for commercial flights, the Lilium Jet will be able to travel 300 kilometers in an hour after a single charge — the equivalent of a journey from London to Manchester in England, U.K.

Lilium, which was founded in 2015 by four friends from the Technical University of Munich in Germany, wants to launch commercial flights by 2025.

The company faces stiff competition from major aerospace players Boeing and Airbus, as well as German start-up Volocopter, which is also working on a vertical takeoff and landing air taxi.

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