Lilium - Point to point small air transport reinvigorated?

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pictsidhe

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Can't view videos here, but it's much, much easier to build a model that flies fairly briefly and with no payload.
Are things like span, wing area, speed, gross weight on the site?
 

DangerZone

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So what if it's a model? Even at half scale it wouldbe a very valuable tool for proving out the concept, testing their control algorithms, the power archutecture, guidance, etc. "We" did the same thing with X-planes and prototypes back in the day;this is just a lower-cost and lower-risk method of doing the same.

At least they have some flying hardware of some kind.
Well, then it wouldn't be able to transport real humans - like cabs do. Apparently that's their goal according to the website, to compete with cabs in city transportation. However, there's a couple of problems.

First, this model has batteries to keep it in air for a dozen of minutes if empty, and couple of minutes if having full batteries.
Second, who's controling the aircraft? Who's the responsible pilot for the safety of occupants and people on the ground?
Third, how many of these guys are pilots? I bet 99% of them are neither pilots nor airspace engineers.
Fourth, the idea is excellent, who's gonna pay for that? If they are not raising funds, I bet they are leeching on some EU fund.
Fifth, such an aircraft would have no stability in high winds or if power goes out. Who would fly in such a safety neglecting aircraft?
Last thing: this might give a bad name to aviation if such drones start falling from the skies, authorities might ban us from flying too...

In short, the idea is brilliant. Yet the way they are doing it seems pointless and futile, because it is doomed by security issues from the very first start.

Oh, another thing. They're hiring!

[video=youtube;9P5BPMuCro4]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P5BPMuCro4[/video]

There's more than 28 people working on this project plus the 5 'founders' and the check from PNB Paribas is for €100k. Now, is my math wrong or those people would not be that happy if there were only €100k split 33 ways? The batteries alone would cost that much, hopefully everyone would get my point. ;)
 
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Unknown_Target

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DangerZone:

First, this model has batteries to keep it in air for a dozen of minutes if empty, and couple of minutes if having full batteries.
- We don't know the endurance, but given the size I think it's reasonable for a short 15 minute flight. I'm no power engineer though.

Second, who's controling the aircraft? Who's the responsible pilot for the safety of occupants and people on the ground?
- It's possible (probable, actually), that the entire aircraft is automated - like a big drone.

Third, how many of these guys are pilots? I bet 99% of them are neither pilots nor airspace engineers.
- Given what they'd built, I'd wager that at least a few of them are aerospace engineers. Their description on Crunchbase says they have several aerospace engineers and are supported by the ESA:
Lilium Aviation Founded in February 2015 by four visionary aerospace engineers and product designers from the Technical University of Munich, Lilium is now a thriving start up driven by the passion to revolutionize personal transportation. Financially secure thanks to reputable investors and supported by the European Space Agency (ESA), Lilium has flourished into a team of more than 35 world-class engineers, designers and pioneers. At Lilium, They are active pioneers of tomorrow´s technology. They excel at innovation and strive for perfection. And They want to be the first and the best in electric VTOL aviation.

Fourth, the idea is excellent, who's gonna pay for that? If they are not raising funds, I bet they are leeching on some EU fund.
- They have two investors: Atomico and e42 Ventures. Total fundraising according to Crunchbase is 11.4 million: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/lilium-aviation#/entity

Fifth, such an aircraft would have no stability in high winds or if power goes out. Who would fly in such a safety neglecting aircraft?
- People who don't know about that stuff.

Last thing: this might give a bad name to aviation if such drones start falling from the skies, authorities might ban us from flying too...
- Well it's funny that you asked the question "who would fly it" and then called it a drone, I think you're right on this point. But hopefully it would drive wider acceptance of drones and personal aviation instead of diminishing it.
 

Jay Kempf

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DangerZone:

Fifth, such an aircraft would have no stability in high winds or if power goes out. Who would fly in such a safety neglecting aircraft?
- People who don't know about that stuff.
There are a lot of multi-copters that exhibit a lot of stability in a lot of conditions. But this thing is supposed to transition and cruise in aero mode. For that one small fin or winglets would be needed. So no big deal. The fin actually is a liability when trying to hover in a cross wind. The Velocity canard design is about this shape and stable in cruise even though it's pretty chubby in cross section. Just has winglets.
 

Unknown_Target

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I'm not worried about high winds, the only thing I would be worried about would be power failure. That being said, given that it's all electric and battery powered the chance of failure is going to be pretty low. If something does happen, I could see a BRS being implemented to offset the huge drag and lack of aerodynamic lift that would come from such an arrangement.
 

Jay Kempf

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I'm not worried about high winds, the only thing I would be worried about would be power failure. That being said, given that it's all electric and battery powered the chance of failure is going to be pretty low. If something does happen, I could see a BRS being implemented to offset the huge drag and lack of aerodynamic lift that would come from such an arrangement.
That's why they have so many rotors. Redundancy on top of electric is reasonably safe. I believe they are planning BRS. So that means you need a way to crash softly if there is a problem from below BRS speeds or altitudes. Tricky design problem.
 

DangerZone

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DangerZone:

First, this model has batteries to keep it in air for a dozen of minutes if empty, and couple of minutes if having full batteries.
- We don't know the endurance, but given the size I think it's reasonable for a short 15 minute flight. I'm no power engineer though.

Second, who's controling the aircraft? Who's the responsible pilot for the safety of occupants and people on the ground?
- It's possible (probable, actually), that the entire aircraft is automated - like a big drone.

Third, how many of these guys are pilots? I bet 99% of them are neither pilots nor airspace engineers.
- Given what they'd built, I'd wager that at least a few of them are aerospace engineers. Their description on Crunchbase says they have several aerospace engineers and are supported by the ESA:
Lilium Aviation Founded in February 2015 by four visionary aerospace engineers and product designers from the Technical University of Munich, Lilium is now a thriving start up driven by the passion to revolutionize personal transportation. Financially secure thanks to reputable investors and supported by the European Space Agency (ESA), Lilium has flourished into a team of more than 35 world-class engineers, designers and pioneers. At Lilium, They are active pioneers of tomorrow´s technology. They excel at innovation and strive for perfection. And They want to be the first and the best in electric VTOL aviation.

Fourth, the idea is excellent, who's gonna pay for that? If they are not raising funds, I bet they are leeching on some EU fund.
- They have two investors: Atomico and e42 Ventures. Total fundraising according to Crunchbase is 11.4 million: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/lilium-aviation#/entity

Fifth, such an aircraft would have no stability in high winds or if power goes out. Who would fly in such a safety neglecting aircraft?
- People who don't know about that stuff.

Last thing: this might give a bad name to aviation if such drones start falling from the skies, authorities might ban us from flying too...
- Well it's funny that you asked the question "who would fly it" and then called it a drone, I think you're right on this point. But hopefully it would drive wider acceptance of drones and personal aviation instead of diminishing it.
Great points. And thanks for the link, it explains a lot. :)

Lilium Aviation Founded in February 2015 by four visionary aerospace engineers and product designers from the Technical University of Munich, Lilium is now a thriving start up driven by the passion to revolutionize personal transportation. Financially secure thanks to reputable investors and supported by the European Space Agency (ESA), Lilium has flourished into a team of more than 35 world-class engineers, designers and pioneers. At Lilium, They are active pioneers of tomorrow´s technology. They excel at innovation and strive for perfection. And They want to be the first and the best in electric VTOL aviation.

In short, the company was founded a year and half or so ago and got 11 million Euro of funding with the support of ESA and no prior results, experience in aviation or knowledge about vertical TO&L. Nice. Specially if we take into consideration that ESA is about Space (EASA is the aviation authority) and that their last project was a fiasco. If the financial side is as transparent as mud, no wonder that the engineering part is flawed.

To get a better perspective, my background is electric power engineering with the specialty of electric motors and batteries. Combined with my aviation knowledge, it can provide me a pretty decent estimate about what this thing can do and what it cannot. ;)

Another point is a thing called Air Law, which prevents a non human to fly an aircraft because someone has to be held accountable if the thing crashes into something. You know, insurance, legal issues, issues why people working in the legal departments drive expensive cars. My lawyer also drives a BMW, and has costs to cover. :gig: In other words, everyone in ESA and EASA certainly KNEW this thing has absolutely NO LEGAL CHANCE to fly at all with a human inside. Even transporting pets might be attacked by the 'Animal Lovers' or whatever we call those unemployed vegans nowadays who roam around and create judging videos about those who kill animals. So, what would be the purpose of this beautiful toy besides getting €11 million of EU funds? :) It's really sad what our money goes to, and it gets worse every day. For €11 million ALL of them could have gotten PPLs and flown around in old aircraft just to see what flying is about. And still they would have some money left to make ultralight aircraft or something uselful for the new younger generations.

Ah well, thanks for the info. Another great idea thrown to the garbage can just because some ESA bureaucrats provided their kids with funds to waste.
 

DangerZone

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There are a lot of multi-copters that exhibit a lot of stability in a lot of conditions. But this thing is supposed to transition and cruise in aero mode. For that one small fin or winglets would be needed. So no big deal. The fin actually is a liability when trying to hover in a cross wind. The Velocity canard design is about this shape and stable in cruise even though it's pretty chubby in cross section. Just has winglets.
I've flown a KR-2 in moderate cross winds. Not fun at all, and the KR-2 has a tail and rudder. I don't even want to imagine what would it be like inside such a small LILIUM aircraft WITHOUT a winglet or rudder.
 

autoreply

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I poked my calculator to see how feasible this is.
With 250Wh/kg batteries (good lithium)
L/D of 20, thrust efficiency of 70%. Range of 300km, no allowance for vtol.
Batteries would need to be 23% of gross weight.
I'm dubious about that L/D. At 10, batteries would be 47% of gross weight.
I would be surprised if they even got a cruise L/D of over 7 or so. Pretty draggy nacelles.

Even with a range of 100 km plus 8 minutes reserve it's fairly useful though.

Impressive would be an understatement.
 

Jay Kempf

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I've flown a KR-2 in moderate cross winds. Not fun at all, and the KR-2 has a tail and rudder. I don't even want to imagine what would it be like inside such a small LILIUM aircraft WITHOUT a winglet or rudder.
You weren't hovering... Different dynamic and method of control. Landing a multirotor or helicopter is a different animal. You normally just weathervane into the wind and drop it on the ground so having a fin just fights your intentions. Even if it has gear with a steerable or castering nose wheel you can steer after you are down to align with the runway or taxiway. Most likely you wouldn't land this thing the way you would land a plane. You'd go to wherever helicopters go. With onboard electrical power you would probably have electric motors in the main wheels anyway so you would taxi under power from the wheels not the thrusters. I think it only needs to have a small fin to make sure it can be stable in cruise after transition. The final design appears to have two wings with the type of setup that is on the rear wing of the prototype. The original design had those sort of cylindrical things as wings. Much better design now where you can unload the need for thruster lift with aero lift. Must less power required for cruise. Joby is in the same vein. I have been designing a complex multirotor tilt wing drone, not similar design solution but similar intent and mission.
 

vtul

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Flash news: Airbus has now come up with an electric jet replacement for those riding shopping carts at large supermarkets. Landings do not require a strip, as shown at the end of the prototype video. And no, this is not CGI:

 
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Himat

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That's why they have so many rotors. Redundancy on top of electric is reasonably safe. I believe they are planning BRS. So that means you need a way to crash softly if there is a problem from below BRS speeds or altitudes. Tricky design problem.
Tricky design problem, but probably solvable. The question is at what weight. Some kind of vehicle airbag would do.
 

bmcj

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I don't see them asking for money so why go to the expense of a CG presentation. Especially one as smooth as this one. Check out the rest of their site, it pretty impressive.
CGI can look pretty real. Here's a CGI of me (you can tell it's me because of the bald spot and it's a taildragger) flying in my plane, but my graphics program is not as good as theirs.

IMG_7702.jpg
 

DangerZone

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You weren't hovering... Different dynamic and method of control. Landing a multirotor or helicopter is a different animal. You normally just weathervane into the wind and drop it on the ground so having a fin just fights your intentions. Even if it has gear with a steerable or castering nose wheel you can steer after you are down to align with the runway or taxiway. Most likely you wouldn't land this thing the way you would land a plane. You'd go to wherever helicopters go. With onboard electrical power you would probably have electric motors in the main wheels anyway so you would taxi under power from the wheels not the thrusters. I think it only needs to have a small fin to make sure it can be stable in cruise after transition. The final design appears to have two wings with the type of setup that is on the rear wing of the prototype. The original design had those sort of cylindrical things as wings. Much better design now where you can unload the need for thruster lift with aero lift. Must less power required for cruise. Joby is in the same vein. I have been designing a complex multirotor tilt wing drone, not similar design solution but similar intent and mission.
Indeed, you are right on many points there. However, there is a large difference between a helicopter with large rotary wings and a strong tail rotor to align it's fuselage as it pleases - and this Lilium project. Helicopters have control over the wind because the airflow of the blades is stronger than the wind. In other words, a helicopter can overcome wind by pure motoric force. What do you think, would the same be possible with these tiny little fans? Could they ever compensate the force of the wind acting on the wing&canard in a strong windgust or a crosswind? Just multiply the disc area of one canard or wing (left or right) and simple physics might show that this aircraft would be tossed around like a plastic toy in a hurricane.
 

vtul

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I'm kinda interested in the JFK ATC's reactions to the idea of thousands of taxicabs of the air jockeying for position with late customers yelling "step on it" to the pilo-cabbies, or all those maydays in the rush hour pattern clamoring for a recharge.
 

revkev6

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besides being electric/sexy/trendy I don't see what the benefit of this is over something like a robinson R44.. which is proven, carries 4 people and has basically the same specs of speed and range that this is aiming for. a new robinson is like $400k right?? I would highly doubt if one of these is made for less.

also the test unit was missing some of it's core components listed on the web page... canard, winglets, retractable landing gear and pilots... this adds a LOT of weight and significantly changes the dynamics. given the efficient cruise mode claims they seemed to ditch that aspect to get it in the air with a 2x3 arrangement of the ducted fans instead of straight 6 along the canard as depicted... if there was a failure resulting in complete loss of electric power there is no way to even attempt a landing.
 

Victor Bravo

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Lillium. Could it be a cross between Lilliputian and helium? .....Just sayin...
No, it's not that at all. Lilium is on the Periodic Table, an element very similar to Learium, a compound which only a small number of select aerospace engineers are aware of. The photo below was taken at a secret laboratory by an operative known only as "Clay", and shows the inventor of Learium, namesake William Lear working with the material (as marked on the container).

As with Learium, Lilium shares several properties with Unobtanium, and has been reported to demonstrate strong similarities to Mollerium, Bedeum, and (lately) Iconium.

However, unlike Lilium, Molleriium and Bedeum, Learium actually worked and resulted in a successful outcome. Iconium has shown to create excellent results in controlled conditions but its benefits have been suppressed by the recurring presence of Fraudium.

8496314.jpg
 
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