Tom Enders – who was Chief Executive Officer at Airbus for more than a decade – has joined the board at Lilium, which is continuing to develop its eVTOL air taxi – the Lilium Jet.
Since the German startup’s conception in 2015, Lilium has been supported by a world-class board who provide sound counsel which is derived from deep experience in aerospace, entrepreneurship and building multinational brands. Enders’ role will involve decision making which influences the ongoing growth of the business.
Following an early career in the German Ministry of Defense as well as serving with the German Airborne troops as a Major in the Army Reserve, his passion for aviation led to his long-standing role at Airbus.
A seasoned helicopter pilot – and keen skydiver – Enders’ impressive tenure in the industry includes almost two decades serving in senior positions at the aerospace giant.
Commenting on joining the Lilium board, Enders said: “When Lilium CEO Daniel Wiegand asked me a few months ago if I would accept an appointment to Lilium’s board, I didn’t have to think for long.
“Lilium, unlike hardly any other aviation company in Europe, stands for fresh pioneering spirit, for a bold departure into new territory. This kind of pioneering spirit, innovation and entrepreneurial courage have always fascinated me – and driven me throughout my almost 30-year career in the aerospace industry.
“Perhaps the thing that has impressed me most about Lilium was that they started with a strong business case and focused from the start on intercity shuttle flights, which allow for higher passenger load factors.
“I believe with this Lilium is solving the problem of notoriously low load-factors in on-demand air-taxi businesses of the past. It will also help to get ticket prices down and truly democratise electric flight, following Lilium’s mission.”
According to Lilium’s timeline, the Lilium Jet is currently undergoing serial aircraft development, certification and industrialisation – which will go up until 2024. The following year, Lilium expects to launch its first service and begin scaling up operations in cities across the world.
Towards the end of last year, the company announced exciting details of its first vertiport location in the the USA – Lake Nona in Orlando, Florida. Closer to home, it agreed partnerships with Düsseldorf Airport and Cologne/Bonn Airport, to explore how both of them can become hubs within a regional air mobility network in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most densely populated state.
Enders praised the work of the team at Lilium – especially founding members Wiegand, Patrick Nathen, Matthias Meiner and Sebastien Born, who met while studying at the Technical University of Munich.
He said: “The young founding engineers had the courage to come up with a technical concept that is tailored for their business model and purposefully different to traditional VTOL solutions. Although it is technically more challenging, they are using electric turbo fans with acoustic liners and have solved the associated engineering challenges.
“This is the same propulsion system that propels 95 per cent of all commercial airliners today and it gives Lilium the same advantages: lower noise emissions than open propellers, higher customer acceptance, and a smaller aircraft footprint. Low noise and high seat capacity are crucial to get market access and economics right.
Talking about Lilium’s journey towards certification, he added: “Today, Lilium is on its way from visionary start-up to serious aircraft manufacturer and service provider. This is a rocky and by no means risk-free road.
“But how are we going to move aviation forward if not with fresh ideas and courageous young entrepreneurs? The history of aviation is full of so-called experts and doubters, who declared back then that everything that we see flying today would be impossible or impractical.
“What I have learned in three decades in the aviation industry, I am happy to bring to Lilium. Our industry needs nothing so much as innovation and new perspectives. That’s the only way we can maintain and renew our license to fly.”