EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW: Tassilo Wanner, Chief Public Affairs and Regulatory Officer, Lilium
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In which areas and geographies do you see strongest potential for growth?
Our transport infrastructure today is broken. It is costly in personal time, space consumption and carbon emissions. That’s why wherever we speak to people, we find there’s a lot of excitement about Lilium’s vision of sustainable and accessible high-speed, regional air mobility.
The regions we believe will be at the forefront have two crucial differentiators. Firstly, they will have objective regulatory frameworks so businesses have a clear understanding of the rules, covering everything from certification through to operations. Secondly, adopting any new form of transportation is a significant endeavor, so they have innovative and forward-thinking leadership. Innovation necessitates new regulations, infrastructure, and support from cities and the public. .
What technologies do you predict will impact the aerial mobility industry most in the next five years?
At Lilium, we focus on regional air mobility – moving people and goods between cities, rather than providing urban air taxis. This means connecting small communities as well as big towns and cities with high speed, 360-degree, regional connections, at less than 1% of the cost of a similar high-speed rail link. This offers the potential to save hours, not minutes. Therefore, from our perspective, it will be the technologies that further unlock regional mobility, such as higher performance batteries, that will make the biggest difference.
What are your expectations from Dubai Airshow 2021 - which will be the first of its kind event since the coronavirus outbreak?
The Dubai Air Show is one of the flagship events for our industry. It’ll be a great opportunity to engage with old friends and potential future partners in-person for the first time since the start of the pandemic. We’re also excited that we’ll be able to showcase a model of our 7-Seater Lilium Jet and discuss our previously announced launch plans.
How can stakeholders increase pressure to quicken the pace of regulatory change to keep up with demand?
Our experience with regulators in the Middle East has been very positive. They have been very forward-thinking and focused on enabling innovation while guaranteeing the highest safety standards. At Lilium, we’re focused on pursuing concurrent certification with regulators in Europe (where we have established a certification basis) and the United States, which we are confident will give us global market access from 2024 onwards.
What are the social benefits and challenges within UAM?
We’re committed to delivering a low noise, sustainable network service that will connect regions with high-speed transport using less intrusive ways, such as flight paths that will be over existing infrastructure like roads and railways. The Lilium Jet’s sound footprint at take-off of around 60dBA is five times lower than that of an open propeller eVTOL of similar weight, and inaudible during cruise.
As well as integrating seamlessly into communities, the 7-Seater Lilium Jet has zero operating emissions, and its low carbon footprint is expected to be less than a tenth of that of a conventional passenger jet, and is comparable to electric high-speed rail, per passenger-kilometer.
By expanding fast, sustainable connectivity, in the long-term, we believe we will be able to significantly reduce the demand of higher-polluting regional road and air travel. Regional air mobility present the possibility to connect major towns and cities to create significant economic impact, better land use, and increased access to industry, culture and nature, without expensive and resource intensive land-based infrastructure like roads or rail tracks.
Lastly, what are Lilium plans ahead in the region?
We believe that regional air mobility has the potential to benefit every region in the world. The Lilium Jet has the potential to make a big impact wherever it operates, with zero operating emissions. There’s a great opportunity especially in the Middle East. For example, Dubai is one of the world’s fastest growing aerospace hubs, handling almost 90 million passengers a year before the pandemic.