A historic milestone: Lilium’s eVTOL aircraft achieves mid-flight wing transition

In his tests on ATLAS Experimental Flight Center from Jaén, Lilium has just achieved what it advertises as a historical milestone in the age of electric aviation. The phoenix 2the demonstration prototype with which these tests have already started, has just demonstrated a key functionality for the future of your project, change your wing configuration to go from vertical and hovering flight to horizontal cruising flight.

At ATLAS, validation tests are already being carried out on the Phoenix 2 prototype, the same prototype that successfully completed the tests in Germany, which will soon be joined by the Phoenix 3. The technological demonstrator is developed to mainly test the concept. It also provides all kinds of data and information that will be applied to the production aircraft.

One of the main objectives of Lilium during these tests is to show the viability of the flight concept that the company has proposed. In order to take off and land vertically, and to travel efficiently over long distances, eVTOL electric aircraft like Lilium’s need generate lift in different ways for which they must modify the configuration of its wings in mid-flight.

while in vertical lift and hover configuration, the plane uses small fans embedded in ducts that allow it to gain, maintain or lose altitude. However, in the phase of cruise flight, horizontalworks like a conventional aircraft, entrusting its lift to the careful design of its wings, thus saving a great deal of energy.

Lilium transition hover cruise evtol electric plane-interior
The rotors of Lilium’s eVTOL electric aircraft in the cruise flight position.

Unlike other proposals, Lilium proposes a solution based on a large number of small fans embedded in ducts (a total of 36). The company is aware that while its design consumes a lot of energy during takeoff and hover, it offers big benefits in performance figures in flight towards horizontal cruise, thanks to the fact that its design is capable of minimizing drag. That is why Lilium’s business proposition is based on longer trips, usually between cities, instead of offering urban trips that require a lot of vertical flights.

In any case, the transition between these flight modes is a key function in the overall operation. That is why Lilium is pleased to demonstrate a key part of this capability using its Phoenix 2 demonstration aircraft. According to Lilium, achieving this milestone is a first for this type of testing.

This transition was completed across its entire main wing and reportedly the aircraft remained stable throughout the test. In doing so, the aircraft becomes the first full-size electric aircraft to transition from hover to winged flight. From here Lilium will work for improve the process during the testing program ahead of him next summer.

“The main wing transition is a big step forward on our path to launch and validates our flight dynamics model,” said Matthias Meiner, co-founder of Lilium.

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