Private aviation and fractional ownership pioneer NetJets continues to innovate with its recent announcement of a partnership with German company Lilium, manufacturer of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) jets. NetJets reported that it has signed a “right to purchase” agreement with Lilium for up to 150 eVTOLs.
Lilium was established in Munich in 2015 with the goal of being a leader in electric aviation. To this end, it brought together some of the most creative minds in the field. In 2021, Lilium began trading as a public company on NASDAQ (LILM). Also last year, the company’s fifth generation demonstration model made its debut. The Lilium Jet can be configured to carry up to six passengers. It uses fast-charge technology, “designed to be capable of fully charging batteries in approximately 30 minutes and charging up to 80% in 15 minutes.” This will allow as many as 25 flights per aircraft per day. Lilium reported that several key strategic partnerships, including this one with NetJets, are “accelerating us towards entry into service in 2024.”
In addition to the “right to purchase” agreement, NetJets will provide operational support for Lilium’s new Florida hub. Daniel Wiegand, Co-founder and CEO of Lilium, said, “We couldn’t be happier to collaborate with NetJets and FlightSafety to electrify this market and hope to forge a long-term strategic partnership.” FlightSafety International, also a Berkshire Hathaway company, will provide additional crew training services.
The press release for the announcement does note that "the proposed arrangement with NetJets is subject to the parties finalizing commercial terms and entering into definitive agreements with respect thereto and satisfaction of certain conditions." So things can certainly change down the road.
Adam Johnson, NetJets Chairman and CEO, said, “Lilium’s aircraft will expand our fleet options and provide our owners with new and flexible means of private travel.” With zero emissions, Lilium aircraft makes a short shuttle flight much more environmentally efficient than traveling the same distance in a gas-fueled car. Furthermore, its vertical takeoff and landing capabilities remove the need for an airport runway. A simple helipad is all that is needed. This makes it a much more attractive option for city travel.
The move toward electric aircraft is a continuation of NetJets’ commitment to sustainability within the aviation industry. Last year, SherpaReport noted that NetJets Europe has been carbon neutral since 2012, using carbon emissions offsets. In 2021, they invested in WasteFuel, becoming the first private aviation company to own a stake in the alternative fuel production industry. The move to eVTOLs for shorter flights is the next logical step towards reducing carbon emissions and ensuring a sustainable future for private aviation. The other large private aviation companies are also looking closely at alternative propoulsion systems and there are hundreds of eVTOL projects in development around the world.