The airline Saudia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lilium, an electric air taxi developer, to develop a network of electric vertical take-off and landing, or eVTOL, aircraft operations across Saudi Arabia. The MoU includes plans for Saudia to purchase 100 eVTOL aircraft. The announcement shared this week states that this agreement would make Saudia the first airline in the Middle East/North Africa region to purchase Lilium’s eVTOLs.
Saudia plans to develop and operate a network of eVTOL aircraft following the purchase of 100 vehicles from Lilium. The airline’s operations would include “new electric point-to-point connections as well as seamless feeder connections to Saudia’s hubs for business class guests,” according to the announcement.
For Lilium, this agreement could offer support throughout the regulatory approval processes in Saudi Arabia that are necessary for certifying the eVTOL. “This partnership with Saudia, our first in the Middle East, is an exciting development,” remarked Alexander Asseily, Lilium’s Vice Chairman, regarding the MoU. “We look forward to working with Saudia to deploy an eVTOL network across Saudi Arabia.”
Saudia’s CEO, Captain Ibrahim S. Koshy, emphasized the airline’s commitment to sustainability and the importance of the MoU signed with Lilium. “Saudia intends to meet a growing demand for regional air mobility and offer our valued Guests a superior on-board experience. The potential for such an airborne transit network is limitless,” Koshy said in the announcement.
The Lilium team aims to certify the eVTOL aircraft with the FAA and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). One of the company’s upcoming goals on the path to certification is to complete all four of its Design Organization Approval (DOA) audits with EASA before July 2023. It plans to launch its aircraft in 2025 following certification.
Lilium’s Phoenix 2 technology demonstrator recently performed a full transition from hover to wing-borne flight. The company shared details about the achievement in its second-quarter letter to shareholders, published in late September. This test flight was conducted at Lilium’s ATLAS (Air Traffic Laboratory for Advanced Unmanned Systems) Flight Test Center in Villacarrillo, Spain.
As revealed in a June announcement, the eVTOL developer has chosen L3Harris to provide extra light data recorders for the Lilium Jet. L3Harris expects to launch the production version of its xLDR next year.
This year, Lilium also announced the selection of Astronics Corporation, an aerospace supplier, to develop and manufacture the electrical power distribution system for its eVTOL.
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