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German startup Lilium is gearing up for its next phase of high-speed flight testing for its fifth-generation Phoenix 2 eVTOL technology demonstrator at the Atlas Flight Test Center in Spain this year.
“The Atlas Flight Test Center provides optimal infrastructure, enabling the aircraft to fly over a large unpopulated area, and this also offers excellent weather conditions in Spain,” said Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and CEO of Lilium, during the company’s business update call with shareholders on Tuesday. “We expect our final permits to fly from the Spanish authorities to be issued shortly.”
Along with high-speed flight tests, the company is also aiming to expand its flight envelope to include full transition to wing-borne flight. And in a bid to accelerate its flight test campaign, Wiegand said work remains on track for an additional demonstrator — the Phoenix 3 — to start first flight tests in Spain this summer.
Based on findings from its preliminary design review (PDR) that started late last year, Lilium executives also unveiled to shareholders a few notable changes to its design to develop what they call a simpler aircraft with a robust certification path.
Lilium said through a slightly larger and more powerful motor design, the company will reduce the number of motors on its eVTOL from 36 to 30. Wiegand calls this “an incremental change” that won’t negatively impact its path to certification or any work that has been done on its battery testing.
The company said that the change offers a reduction in the aircraft’s part count, weight, and system complexity, and improves the aircraft’s aerodynamic balance, lowers material and maintenance costs, and improves design flexibility.
“We have been thinking about a 30-engine configuration over the last few years,” Wiegand said. “But we now feel confident to say that we have all the data we need. We’ve had wind tunnel test campaigns in the last 12 months to confidently make that step and make use of the benefits.”