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Sun, Feb 26, 2023

Collins to Produce Lilium Jet Sidestick Controllers

Inception of the Outsourced Inceptor 

Founded in 2015 by four Ph.D. students at Munich’s technical University, Lilium GmbH is a German aerospace concern about the enterprise of developing an Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) jet to which the company has ascribed the decidedly prosaic appellation Lilium Jet.

On 23 February 2023, Lilium announced it had partnered with Raytheon Technologies subsidiary Collins Aerospace, an American technology company prominent among aerospace and defense concerns, to design, develop, and build the Lilium Jet’s inceptors—the cockpit sidestick control mechanisms by which pilots will guide the Lilium Jet in flight. The business of bringing such a system to market is eminently congruous with Collins Aerospace’s well-earned reputation for crafting advanced and intelligent solutions for both military and civilian aircraft.

Once developed and integrated into the Lilium Jet’s flight-control architecture, the aesthetically-pleasing, highly-ergonomic inceptors will facilitate safe and intuitive aircraft handling as well as easy access to functionalities such as push-to-talk and flight-director synchronization. By integrating the entirety of the Lilium Jet’s flight-controls into elegant left-and-right-side cockpit sidesticks, Collins Aerospace will provision Lilium with the burgeoning electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) sector’s first such system. What’s more, by replacing orthodox cable, pulley, and push-rod flight-control components with electronic processors, wiring-harnesses, and actuators, the inceptors will significantly decrease the Lilium Jet’s empty weight while increasing its payload.

Lilium’s collaboration with Collins Aerospace is consistent with the former’s convention of partnering with established tier-one aerospace suppliers, the expertise and experience of which have collectively served to hasten the Lilium Jet’s progress toward type certification and mass production. As part of its supplier agreement with Lilium, Collins Aerospace will see the inceptors certified to commercial aviation standards.

Lilium chief operating officer Yves Yemsi stated: “Our partnership with Collins Aerospace allows us to reap the benefit of five-decades of experience in flight-deck controls. Our two companies’ collaborative development approach allows us to re-imagine the cockpit and pilot experience, and further strengthens our path towards certification and commercialization.”

Collins Aerospace Propeller Systems vice president and general manager Jean-François Chanut added: “Our extensive experience innovating sidestick design is key when tackling the challenges of redefining the entire flight-control philosophy for single-pilot aircraft in this new market of advanced regional air mobility. This innovating and exciting partnership with Lilium is a first step in defining the right solutions towards more automated, sustainable, and safe operations for the future of flight.”

Lilium has filed north of 69 patent applications germane to its eVTOL concept with the European Patent Office—42 of which have been granted. The company is currently filing supplementary applications for subject patents in the U.S. and China.

FMI: www.lilium.com

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