German electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developer Lilium says it has secured a deal with a UK air services provider for 10 confirmed orders for the Pioneer Edition of its advanced air mobility (AAM) vehicles, and an option for another 10 – nearly half of the 50 luxury planes the company plans to produce.
Lilium said it had inked the deal with eVoltaire, an eVTOL subsidiary of UK helicopter and private jet operator Volare Aviation, for use offering future AAM services for its well-heeled clients. Under the agreement, eVoltaire will provide an undisclosed pre-delivery payment amount for 10 Pioneer of Lilium’s Edition electric jets, with an option to order another 10 at a future date.
Once Lilium obtains certification and launches production of the high-end eVTOL, eVolare will sell those to private owners, for whom it will provide AAM flight and aircraft maintenance services. The plan is for eVolare to base that operation out of Oxford, and oversee air transportation to and around the Greater London area.
The agreement is significant for Lilium in a number of ways.
For starters, it marks the launch of its Pioneer Edition, which offers customizable configuration and exclusive fabrics and materials for the cabin, and service, support, and training as part of the package. The company plans to produce 50 of those planes.
The inclusion of the pre-payment detail is also worth noting – which is probably why Lilium made the effort to mention it in its communiqué. It comes after the company announced last month it had raised $119 million in new capital from “existing shareholders, new investors, and strategic partners” in a release that was heavy with financial boilerplate but thin on whys and wherefores.
While not unheard of, that kind of infusion is somewhat rare for companies like Lilium that have already gone public. The move suggests Lilium may have already burned through the cash raised during its stock market introduction, and needs more to continue developing its aircraft.
Suspicions that’s the case are all the more tempting given Lilium’s innovative designs of its eVTOL that require considerably more battery power than rival AAM technologies – an energy drain whose viability some observers have questioned. Lilium has since tweaked operational details – including reduced intended range – which have assuaged some of those concerns, but may also explain the reason for its additional funding requirements.
But coming in the wake of its 100 AAM plane contract with Saudi Arabia’s national airline for air taxi use, the company’s deal with eVolare offers additional evidence prospective buyers aren’t troubled by doubts about Lilium’s promises to deliver efficient next-generation craft following certification expected in 2025.
“The revolutionary technology of the Lilium Pioneer Edition Jet coupled with its unique, premium cabin, made it a natural choice for us when looking to meet the future demands of an environmental conscious market,” said eVolare founder Dustin Dryden. “For all our customers, we can offer point to point time-saving travels in a sustainable, safe manner while introducing some incredibly exciting innovation to the UK market.”