PARIS – German air taxi developer Lily Air Mobility plans to build industrial capacity to produce around 400 of its electric-powered Lilium Jet flying shuttles a year, while taking advantage of schemes that provide government support for research, its new chief executive has said.

Lilium competes in a crowded electric vertical takeoff and landing market (eVTOL) vehicles, hoping to replace trips or short flights by airplanes or helicopters.

But challenges in securing certification and financing innovations such as fresh battery technology have hampered the new sector. Lilium shares have fallen 73 percent this year.

“I strongly insist (on) a production system for 400 aircraft. And if one day we’re lucky enough to need the 800, we’ll just duplicate it, but not here (in Germany)…but where the big markets are,” former Airbus CEO Klaus Rowe told Reuters.

Roewe joined the Bavarian startup in August after what he described to Lilium shareholders on Wednesday as “production hell” ramping up production of the large jets as head of the A320 family program at Airbus.

“Let’s size it up and see how we should design a manufacturing system including the entire supply chain for 400 aircraft,” Roe said after the quarterly information for shareholders.

Lilium did not name the detailed costs.

For the first time, the company plans to tap standard government funding sources, such as research grants, Roe said.

He did not say where the state funding might come from or what the amounts might be. Aerospace companies typically use national and European Union programs to support innovation, while Airbus is at odds with Boeing over the use of loans.

Lilium stated that it is convinced that it is rechargeable lithium accumulators will meet performance and regulatory requirements.

In February 2020, a battery fire destroyed a technology demonstrator and delayed testing.

Rowe said the risk of so-called thermal runaway may never be eliminated, but will be contained to a small number of cells and remain within certification criteria, which provide for the same tiny margins of error as for commercial aircraft.

According to the Aerospace and eVTOL publication, batteries may be a common issue to face in certification with rules still to be agreed between different regulators. Air flow.

The German firm plans to create a regional transportation network under the Lilium brand, starting in Florida, and a separate revenue stream from bulk sales of its fixed-wing jets to companies planning their own cargo or passenger operations.

It expects to start receiving pre-shipment payments next year when potential buyers place pre-orders, the report said.

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