In March 2021, Lilium revealed the development of the 7-Seater Lilium Jet, a unique aircraft design, technology and architecture that we discuss in more depth in this blog. As always in aerospace and aviation, no aircraft enters active service without passing rigorous certification standards set by aviation regulators. Earlier this year, it was announced that Lilium are pursuing concurrent certification of the 7-Seater Jet with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the European regulator, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), its US counterpart, through provisions under the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) between the EU and US.
We both joined Lilium because we were inspired by an exciting and entirely unique approach to electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) technology and with it the opportunity to help shape the future of sustainable and environmentally cleaner air mobility. Between the two of us, we have over thirty years’ experience in obtaining certification for, and delivering some of, the world’s most successful and complex commercial aircraft.
Bhavesh, who heads up Lilium’s Office of Airworthiness, started his career with the Joint Aviation Authorities-approved design organization (a precursor to EASA), before moving on to set up the first EASA-approved aircraft design organization in Australia. He then transitioned to heading up Boeing’s certification and design organization efforts in the UK and Ireland.
Prior to joining Lilium almost two years ago, Yves spent the last sixteen years at Airbus in various leadership roles, including leading Quality for the A350XWB program, one of the most successful programs at Airbus.
From our unique vantage points, we also saw a distinguished and experienced team working with regulators on a new set of standards in aviation – with the certification of Lilium’s 7-Seater Jet at its core. Our colleague, Chief Technology Officer Alastair McIntosh, has previously discussed the technologies that underlie the 7-Seater serial jet in his blog. Building on this, we wanted to share our ongoing progress in the development and certification of the 7-Seater Jet, including the critical aerospace processes that form part of it.
Philosophy: Designing with Certification in Mind
At Lilium, we have designed a new type of aircraft from the ground up with a certification mindset. Our matrix organizational structure has been constructed to ensure our program and product development processes are uniquely intertwined with the process of aircraft certification itself. This philosophy is critical to managing the risk of developing an aircraft which cannot be certified and commercialized. This is perhaps the single most important reason why an improvised ‘startup’ approach to aerospace development is unwise.
With this in mind, in 2017, we applied for an EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA), the regulatory approval required for organizations to design and certify new aircraft. This has ensured our processes have been developed within a regulatory framework from an early stage, further reinforcing our certification culture. In parallel, we have also applied for an EASA Production Organization Approval (POA) to enable us to manufacture and produce aircraft at scale. Like the DOA, the POA is a fundamental requirement for all commercial aircraft manufacturers.
And finally, prior to carrying passengers, the airline operating the Lilium Jet will require an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) or similar aviation operating authority. Lilium intends to work with a network of well-established suppliers and providers, including Luxaviation Group as recently announced, to serve as the holders of the AOC.
We are aiming to achieve Entry Into Service (“EIS” in industry parlance) in 2024, which is a fairly ambitious goal. At first glance, we recognize that our timeline may appear challenging, but we are confident in our program timelines, as explained in the full post.