Video-Interview with Daniel Wiegand, CEO Lilium.
Where and when will air taxis become an everyday phenomenon?
Daniel Wiegand: We assume that we will begin operations in one or more major cities because there will simply be enough demand there to make a launch economically viable. From there, the system will fan out gradually into smaller cities. The major cities I’m talking about could really be anywhere in the world. We’ve actually had inquiries from across the globe, from every continent. That means – even though we often say in Germany that we won’t be the first because the regulations are not yet in place – in the aviation industry, the same rules and regulations really do apply across the whole of Europe, just as they do in the United States or in Brazil. In other words, we have excellent opportunities to be a front runner in those markets, too.
And what would be your rough forecast as to when?
Daniel Wiegand: We at Lilium will be on the market well before 2025. I can’t be any more explicit than that at present.
So, are we likely to be ordering air taxis in Germany or elsewhere in the future and will we no longer have cars of our own?
Daniel Wiegand: Maybe we won’t need to have a car because there will be an on-demand car service, but we will also be able to book air taxis. Then one day, probably in 15 years or so, air taxis like these will replace 30 to 40 percent of road traffic.
Will our cities become more livable places if road traffic takes to the skies?
Daniel Wiegand: Absolutely, if we do things the right way. I don’t believe we can simply turn our entire road traffic into air traffic and then say: “Now we’ve made everything better.” We would just have the same problems as before. No, we have to be smart and consider very carefully what transportation and what sort of traffic we want on the ground and what we want in the air. For example, transit traffic shouldn’t traverse cities at street level. We can get that airborne. That will speed up passenger traffic and help us reduce bothersome noise and exhaust emissions as well as traffic congestion on the ground. But, let me say, you should still make your Sunday trip to the bakery by car.
A single air taxi may be fun, but thousands could produce chaos. How is it supposed to work?
Daniel Wiegand: It depends on what phase we’re in. Initially, things will work using the same airspace management technology that has been in place for years. With this technology, I’m sure we can get several thousand air taxis onto the market. If the number of aircraft rises in the future, then we’ll need a digital airspace management technology. At the moment, we – along with many other companies – are doing committee work and talking to regulators with the goal of creating a new standard that will enable this.
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