One click leads to another and pretty soon you are off somewhere totally unexpected… like Yet Another NBC Propaganda Article.
This time from C-NBC, that’s a bit better than basic NBC and not nearly as sucky as pMSNBC, but has it’s own class of oddity. It likes to hype stuff that might drive markets regardless of how silly it is.
In this case, a “Jet” for commercial use. One that will, maybe, possibly, carry 6 passengers… and runs on electricity.
Lilium, a German start-up making electric jets that can take off and land vertically, has announced plans to sell 220 of its vehicles for up to $1 billion to Brazilian airliner Azul.
The two firms said on Monday that they plan to build an eVTOL (electric vehicle takeoff and landing) aircraft network across Brazil between now and 2025.
“The aircraft we’re planning to launch will do 175 miles an hour,” Alex Asseily, Lilium’s chief strategy officer, told CNBC on Monday. “The range will be 155 miles.”
The aviation industry is under intensifying pressure to look at new ways of powering their carriers as policymakers publicly acknowledge the necessity of transitioning to a low-carbon society.
Lilium’s latest aircraft is a five-seater model but the one that goes into serial production and gets sold to Azul will be a seven-seater model, Asseily said, adding that the production line is 50% complete.
Each Lilium jet will cost Azul roughly $4.5 million.
I note in passing that some unknown “policymakers” have their bank accounts nicely filled and are fully engaged with The Collective and promoting idiocy…
So we’re getting something with almost the speed performance of a Piston Aircraft from about 1960? At $4.5 MILLION a copy? Let’s compare the Beech Baron, shall we?
Four to Six seats, so very close to the same. I note in passing you can see the effect of the rampant inflation as we went off the gold standard under Nixon, and Johnson spent like a drunken sailor (as, it seems, do all Dimocrats).
Built 1968 through 1969. Four to six seats. Introduced new paint scheme and ‘speed-slope’ windshield. Changed to three blade props and a different flap configuration. 316 aircraft built. Priced at $73,950 in 1968.
Introduced in 1970, run through 1982. Four to six seats. Incorporated new paint scheme and interior design. Improved avionics and panel. Wing-tip lights and rotating beacon made flush; new entrance step. Also added were 172 US gallon (166 usable) interconnected tanks with one fill cap per wing became an option in 1976. 433 built. Priced at $83,950 in 1970, $219,500 in 1982.
But the Baron specs are much better:
Maximum speed: 205 kn (236 mph, 380 km/h) at sea level
Cruise speed: 180 kn (210 mph, 330 km/h) at 12,000 ft (3,700 m) (55% power)
Stall speed: 73 kn (84 mph, 135 km/h) IAS, power off, wheels and flaps lowered
Range: 942 nmi (1,084 mi, 1,745 km) at 10,500 ft (3,200 m), 65% power, 45 min reserves
Service ceiling: 19,700 ft (6,000 m)
Rate of climb: 1,670 ft/min (8.5 m/s)
Takeoff distance to 50 ft (15m): 1,675 ft (511 m)
Landing distance from 50 ft (15m): 1,840 ft (560 m)
So paying a heck of a lot more for a worse aircraft? Um, why again?
FWIW, this proposed ePlane can’t get from San Francisco to Los Angeles (about 360 miles) even if you stop for a recharge at the 155 mile point. THE biggest flight corridor in California. Brazil is much bigger than California so I expect there to be even more challenges finding places to use it there.
In fact, it can’t even make it from San Francisco to Reno Nevada (about 230 miles) on one charge. That’s about as short a run as possible while getting any benefit from an airplane. Though I’d wonder if it can handle a 9000 ft flight altitude to get over the mountains… in summer especially when Density Altitude has the hot air making it act more like 10k to 11k feet.
It looks to me like this is far more a way to “Generate Buzz” (like, oh, “The Tesla of the air!!!”) and suck in “investor” money for salaries and perks than any real attempt to make a workable biz-jet. (And can you really call something going 175 MPH a “biz-jet”?)
Oh, and after you fly this thing for just under an hour (155 mile range, 175 MPH, so 53 minutes at max speed) you get to let it, and the pilot, sit on the ground a good long time while you recharge the batteries for the next flight. One hopes they come up with battery packs they can swap, but that usually adds a lot of weight you would not want in a marginal aircraft…
So what are the economics going to look like, eh? Pop $4.5 Million for an aircraft you can fly an hour, then let sit for (let’s be VERY generous here…) say 5 hours on a charger, then fly it again. So a 6 hour cycle time. At full boogie, 4 flights a day. Call it 360 x 4 a year (5 days for maintenance) or 1440 absolute max. With interest on $4.5 Million at, say, 3%, that’s $135,000 a year. Add in costs for electricity and a pilot, it will not be cheap. I’d guess you are looking at a minimum of $100 / passenger / flight. To “puddle jump” a distance you can drive in 2 hours (when getting through security at the airport takes 2 hours…)
The only way I can see this working is if you have about 1/2 dozen airplanes per pilot. At any one time, 5 are on the ground being charged and cleaned. Pilot is shuttling between 2 airports and on landing parks it at the charge point and moves to the next airplane. On average he’s got 1 hour 20 minutes per plane to fly for just under an hour, park it, and get to the next plane. So about $27 Million per pilot just to keep the pilot working for an 8 hour shift and move 36 people 150 miles each. (Seating of 7, minus one for the pilot, 6 passengers and NO COPILOT which may be illegal in some places… for 6 plane loads, or 36 paying passengers). So about 5400 passenger miles / pilot / day. Or 1,620,000 passenger miles for a 300 day work year per pilot. Figure even a cheap pilot will have a fully burdened rate of $100,000 / year, that’s 16.2 passenger-miles / dollar or 6.17 ¢/passenger-mile just for the pilot IF you can keep them hustling that fast for 300 days.
Note that 250 days is the more realistic number. 5 days x 50 weeks = 250. Two weeks off for vacation and “weekends” off. At 300 days, you are really racking overtime… but this gives a low-ball cost and might exist in 3rd World places.
Then you get to add in 6 x $135,000 = $810,000 interest rate on those planes (though in reality they could be shared over 3 shifts IFF you can find people willing to fly every single hour of the clock… so might be only $203k) That’s going to be 12.5 ¢ to $1/2 per mile. So somewhere between 20 ¢ and 60 ¢ per passenger mile even before gate fees / parking apron (and you will need a LOT of it for 5/6 of your fleet grounded and charging at any one time) ground crew, electricity and charge points, etc. etc.
So your 150 mile flight will run between $40 and $60 best case, but more likely in the range of $100 to $300 (don’t forget taxes and management overhead and and and…)
So will you pay $100 to fly a distance you could drive faster than it takes to get through security and be boarded onto the plane? Only if stuck in an Urban Jungle with horrible traffic jams.
Where I could see this working?
NICE high end executive suburb about 100 miles away from The City with a very small airport and fast security screening since it is full of Rich Executives. They “commute to work” in the City with this thing doing a VTOL on the roof of their big office building. Company pays the $200 / day transport cost. after all, that is “only” about $60,000 / year. Cheap for a Big Corp Perk to the executive class. Pilot flies in 100 miles, lets off the passengers, then goes another 20 to 40 miles to a “Park ‘N Charge” and waits for the Lunch Rush calls…
I do also see it working as a way to suck in a LOT of “investor” money to be spread around to “Family & Friends Of The Company” making the planes. I don’t see this working for the “working class” in any capacity at all.
Smells like a boondoggle to me ;-)