Lilium - Point to point small air transport reinvigorated?

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BBerson

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I doubt it could get an EA-B certification, let alone ATC for commercial sales. No rules. I doubt the FAA is even considering manned autonomous VTOL rules in the near future.
 

Jay Kempf

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I love how the thing landed in the front patio of the office building with unshrouded blades. How would the thing know that there weren't pink squishy things to land on and perform the veg-a-matic procedure on? Also the guy in the video looked like he was 6'4" tall and the left out the part where he had to crawl under the gull wing door and back his butt in to the seat. Then they show him electively putting on a Sparco harness. None of those things would get through any sort of DOT or SAE sniff test here. Maybe in Dubai money changes everything. I know, concept only and great video mockups of this stuff cut together but sheesh! They do press releases and the press gobbles it up and doesn't even fact check the company's marketing hype. There used to be press that was at least a little bit skeptical and would check a few things with an industry expert and report on a little counter opinion. Ready for deployment in July? Really?

And this thing is not similar to the Lilium concept (not a general defense of Lilium, just technology difference). It's just a giant quad copter. No transition to aero, no shrouded rotors, etc... It would be a better concept if it had 20 small rotors for redundancy and they weren't set at thigh level to dice up customers.
 

BBerson

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These things are only pure wild experimentation at this point. Any mention of customers is ludicrous and proof of real intent.
Even Airbus sends press releases of it's two seat electric fan airplane to be put in production, after a period of poor results then quietly announces it is cancelled.
 

TFF

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Once these companies release real test flight footage with real people instead of advertising footage, then I will think they are close. There has not been one film without a bunch of editing and off parallax pictures. There is no scale in any of the pictures on purpose. The fuzzy overhead flight of the Lilium is right out of the 50s flying saucer pics. Fuzzy in this digital age; right. Right now still a bunch of actors and models. When ADSB is fully implemented and the FAA is happy with avoidance software, is only the point when these things will be allowed to fly.
 

pictsidhe

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Gull wing doors set off alarm bells for me. They are always heavier than than a conventional door and tend to open to the perfect height to inflict head injuries to 6'6" apes like myself. They are pure bling.
 

Victor Bravo

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We have a Yiddish word for this... "mishigaas". It means a whole bunch of craziness. There is also a perfectly accurate Redneck word for it, the first half of which is "cluster".

Nobody should be seriously thinking of putting beautifully sharp carbon meat grinder blades around the entry doors of a vehicle at the height of your crotch, like in the ehang video referenced. The fact that some life-critical and highly complex aircraft at the cutting edge of (whatever) is being tested and introduced in Dubai (as opposed to Groom Lake, Lockheed Georgia, Wichita, Palmdale, Mojave Spaceport, or a European Akaflieg) tells me everything I need to know about the ehang gizmo.

We're in the "information age", and today's descendants of PT Barnum, Ponzi, and Mr. Haney from "Green Acres" have figured out that they can easily float out any number of ridiculous concepts or scams on the internet... and just wait and see which one comes back with any investor money. I watch "Shark Tank" on TV with my wife, and it is just amazing to see how many people try to get some marginally viable or borderline preposterous value proposition funded in complete conflict with common sense.

Fans or rotors blowing air over highly cambered or round airfoils for powered lift... fine. Proven more than once, completely legit, backed up by demonstrable physics and aeroscience. No great leap of faith to accept some new scientific principle "just around the corner". If the inherent inefficiency or drag of thick or round airfoils is a compromise that allows VTOL and creates a new market for flying cars... I understand.

"Almost ready to bring to scale" because the battery technology is "just around the corner"... I'll even accept that leap of faith, because it is known that tremendous progress is being made, and thousands of the leading e-engineers worldwide are busting their butts to invent the magic battery. I have some amount of faith that the battery will come within a reasonable time.

But using a physical shape and form factor that is in conflict with the most basic known shapes and weight distributions that work on aircraft? Using a shape that will create natural instability around the yaw axis? Making a promotional video that uses the visual and informational cues of a nonsense "Vaporware" sales video, and a video that provides no credibility or legitimacy cues? Providing zero detail, and deliberately not addressing the most obvious basic questions that would come from the legitimate aviation community?

If I were on the team that is designing and building these vehicles,a nd especially if I were in any position at the entities that fund it... and if I KNEW that we were bui lding something that actually worked but the general public was not educated enough to see it... I would be much much much more concerned about the perceived credibility and legitimacy of the project that the makers of the Lilium were.
 

Aesquire

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I was just watching an "American Test Kitchen" review on blenders. The Ehang 184 needs Prince P-tip props to get a better mix for the pink mist it will make as it lands in a crowd... ;)
 

pictsidhe

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Small rotors, lousy efficiency. With these things running on batteries, that's going to be limiting. That Korean thing had ~1 minute flight time?
 

radfordc

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That thing is pure hokem! Might as well try to fly a solar powered plane around the world!! Oh...wait
 

autoreply

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How are you gonna cycle the aircraft enough to do that? Replace the batteries after every flight? Now <edited> we need serious charging, storage, and battery swap infrastructure and a crew to manage things at each little landing site.

If the automated airborne commuter concept is viable, why bother doing it as all-electric? Stick a motor in it, generate electric power, and run the fans. Have a 2 minute backup battery if the engine coughs. Voila, cheaper, more technologically doable, longer ranged, and less to fool with on a daily basis.
If a typical flight uses 10-20% of battery capacity you have 15 to 25 mminutes of charging time. Show up before that and range might be 10 percent or so less.

That also solves one of two potential show stoppers. Batteries last way more cycles if you don't discharge them as far.

The other is obviously the unpiloted aspect.
 

gtae07

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The fact that some life-critical and highly complex aircraft at the cutting edge of (whatever) is being tested and introduced in Dubai (as opposed to Groom Lake, Lockheed Georgia, Wichita, Palmdale, Mojave Spaceport, or a European Akaflieg) tells me everything I need to know about the ehang gizmo.
Well, it could mean it's a "cluster"... or it could mean that the regulators in the US and Europe won't let it fly because it doesn't fit into one of the existing neatly-defined categories in the regulations. Powered lift is a relatively new category that I don't think any existing aircraft has been certified in (unless the V-22 has a civil certification), and to my knowledge nobody's regs are accommodating of electric-powered aircraft yet. An autonomous electric powered-lift aircraft might leave the FAA sputtering in confusion. The UAE authorities may be more... accommodating of novel concepts than the FAA. Or at least, maybe flying first in Dubai means a lot less bureaucratic red tape. I'd imagine further tests in the US/Europe would be easier if you came to them with test data and said "look, here's what we have and how it works".

Or the third possibility is that some rich guy in Dubai is funding the project so it's being done locally.
 

Tom Nalevanko

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This aircraft got good acceptance at the UBER Elevate Summit yesterday. Lots of $$$ flowing into this segment. Lilium has an all aircraft parachute, just in case, but I don't see how this helps with problems at low altitude.

BTW the presentations are live-streamed both today and tomorrow and yesterday's will most probably be online....

Blue skies,

Tom
 

tspear

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This aircraft got good acceptance at the UBER Elevate Summit yesterday. Lots of $$$ flowing into this segment. Lilium has an all aircraft parachute, just in case, but I don't see how this helps with problems at low altitude.

BTW the presentations are live-streamed both today and tomorrow and yesterday's will most probably be online....

Blue skies,

Tom
Rocket launched chutes can be designed for low altitude. Just look at the BRS chutes for ultra lights. It can be done, as for cheap, that is another matter.
You also have ejection seats for military aircraft which are designed for zero/zero conditions. So it can be done....

Tim
 

cheapracer

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Lilium has an all aircraft parachute, just in case, but I don't see how this helps with problems at low altitude.
Even just the drag of the chute coming out might take just 1 knot off the impact speed, and that could make the difference between being stretchered away, or having the Coroner come and get you. I'll take that.
 

Jay Kempf

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Even just the drag of the chute coming out might take just 1 knot off the impact speed, and that could make the difference between being stretchered away, or having the Coroner come and get you. I'll take that.
If you have any forward velocity and a you can get a chute deployed you have a pretty good chance. It is that place between coming in on final and before transition of a tilt wing VTOL that is the problem. So the idea would be to program the mission profile to transition low which is has its own set of issues. But with electric motors and a lot of them and that much redundancy I think that unless there was a full power failure you could mush in as a worst case if you started losing motors. All multi copters can adapt in real time to rotor/thrust losses. The more rotors the better the probability of maintaining control. Say you were down to 50% power from a low altitude you are still slowing your decent. I think a chute is mandatory in this sort of craft, and automatic in some way with the intended clientele and what they all intend as a commercial footprint. Cars don't have red levers for airbags, right? They have sensors that respond to the case where the impact is already underway. A chute controller could sense loss of control, uncommanded loss of thrust, altitude and descent rate combinations, and a host of other conditional factors before deploying. Without that figured out none of these things are viable. I think any sort of chute deployment works. Could be pneumatic. Just has to be relatively fast.
 

BBerson

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Very large airbags could automatically deploy anytime the sink rate goes over limit.
The airbags could be partly parachute shaped for air drag at altitude to slow the bounce better than the Mars lander that used bags.
The airbags should be deployed on all sides in case of sudden flip over. These airbags on all sides could protect people on the ground also. Getting crushed by a Cirrus under a chute, for example would not go over well with city folk.
 
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